Sunday, January 14, 2007

The world is shaped in the blink of an eye

I just finished reading a fascinating book called Blink. Malcolm Gladwell, the author does a great job at showing how the human mind has an ability to sort and process very rapidly relevant information in the blink of an eye to reach conclusions, make decisions and take action. Blink is about "the power of thinking without thinking" as Gladwell says, that incredible capability in of our unconscious mind that helps us steer our course in this universe for the best and for the worse. The book contains some very interesting case studies from a variety of fields from marital counseling to marketing to military and art. I was struck by the work done by Harvard to show the unconscious biases into which our education and social contexts conditions us: try it for yourself at this site or here (if the first link does not work as was reported by a reader).

One of the most interesting case studies deals with a war game of the Pentagon which took an unexpected turn as the bad guy was able to inflict severe losses to US forces in the simulation simply by organizing his side as a loose system instead of trying to capture huge amounts of data to make decisions in the heat of the battle. In a way it reminded me of modern management where there is a drive in many companies to capture all sorts of data about a business in a futile attempt to control the future, whereas it is often far more productive to hire the right people and give them the freedom to perform.


  1. The link seems to be dead :(

  2. Thanks for reporting the dead link.
    When I checked a couple of days ago it was redirecting to and that one seems to be working.