I recently read the book “Blink, the power of thinking without thinking“, by Malcolm Gladwell. A book about the magic of experts’ intuition. The book left me with big questions on expertise and intuition, so I had to dig deeper. I am convinced that experts’ intuition is not always reliable, what I found is that it depends on the domain of expertise and the expert’s experience in the domain.
In this post I summarize 2 approaches to intuition:
Naturalistic Decision-Making (NDM)
Heuristics and Biases (HB)
The confrontation of these 2 approaches results in 3 conditions for reliable intuition, abbreviated as REF:
For starters, we define intuition as the ability to detect a pattern and solve problems rapidly, without relying on conscious reasoning.
Two Approaches to Intuitive Expertise: NDM vs. HB
The first approach to intuitive expertise is naturalistic decision-making (NDM). It is focused on the decisions made in real life by experienced people such as firefighting commanders, nurses, chess-masters, etc. NDM aims at demystifying the intuition by searching for the cues that led to the expert judgment.
Learning new skills is paramount in today’s world. Whether you are searching for a first job, seeking a promotion in your current job or planning to make a career pivot, your ability to learn new skills (fast) will be your best friend.
In his book “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything. Fast!”, Josh Kaufman suggests the following 10 steps to gain a new skill quickly:
Choose a project you love, a project you are very curious about.
Focus your energy on one skill at a time, don’t try to learn everything at once.
Define your target performance level, when you become “good enough” on the skill. This will define how long and how much energy you will put in this project.
Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills. Divide and conquer.
Obtain critical tools, the tools you need for practice and performance.
Eliminate barriers to practice, including emotional barriers. Set your environment in a way to reduce the effort required to practice. Remove distractions, put your mobile phone away, etc.
Make dedicated time for practice, MAKE it.
Create fast feedback loops. Feedback is to get accurate information about how well you are performing. Using this information to improve the performance creates a feedback loop. The faster the loop, the faster the learning.
Practice by the clock in short bursts. You may try the Pomodoro technique.
Emphasize quantity and speed. Don’t seek perfection. Quantity is better than quality for learning a new skill.
To be at your best performance, and accelerate your learning curve, make sure you are in the zone, or in a flow state. More on that in future posts.
Title: Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Publication Date: 2005
Recommendation Score: 3.5/5
“Blink” is about experts’ intuition. The takeaway of the book is: the experts cannot be fooled easily because of their “thin-slicing” ability, that is, they can judge and find patterns in events based on a narrow window of experience, thanks to their intuition. On the other hand, experts can be easily (catastrophically) fooled, as in the case of “Warren Harding Error” (chapter 3). The book leaves you confused about when to trust an expert intuition and when not to.
Gladwell is a good writer and knows how to attract his reader’s attention. He is a talented journalist, who reads tons of articles and books, and interviews a lot of people, to write a good story. His storytelling style makes the reading of the book pleasant. When it comes to the content, the author is far from being an expert on the topic. In many chapters, Gladwell seems to jump between 2 or 3 stories to come to some conclusion, without citing solid evidence about the conclusion.
If you want to read a book that is based on solid scientific research, “Blink” may not satisfy your need.
The digital technology industry has been moving in a very fast pace over the last decades. Companies that are unable to adapt have been left behind (Nokia, Kodak, etc.). Agility is a key skill for a company to remain competitive.
Since the Agile Manifesto for software development, declared in 2001, several software companies have been moving towards this mindset. Some companies went further, and adopted Agile way of development in industries other than software industry.
If your time to you is worth saving Then you better start swimming, or you’ll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changing.
Is it possible for any company to apply Agile ? How about big companies, with complex organizations, top-down policies, rigid processes, over-specialized teams, and other bureaucratic burdens ? And above all, what is Agile and what is not Agile ? First, let’s review the life-cycle of a product.
A product life-cycle can be broadly divided into 4 phases as shown on the figure below: