Monday, April 11, 2016

Thinking about thinking

Three of us gathered at Debra's to discuss Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making (Bradford Books)by Gary Klein, the selection for the April book club.  It was an interesting pick,
challenging some basic assumptions about the best way to approach difficult decisions.

Not many copies were available through the library (zero electronically), so I turned online to see if Klein had done any Ted Talks on the subject. There was more available about Seeing What Others Don't, his more recent offering. Klein has inspired thought leaders like Malcolm Gladwell, and has been a consultant for the military and tech companies, but he is not a popular choice for non-fiction. As Debra said, it reads pretty much like a textbook, albeit on a fascinating subject.

The assumptions Klein questions are these:

1) Teaching people procedures helps them perform better
2) Biases distort our thinking
3) The best decision making process involves listing all possible options and choosing the best one
4) We can reduce uncertainty by gathering more information
5) It’s bad to jump to conclusions
6) People need feedback to learn
7) Drawing inferences from data helps us make sense of the problem
8) The best starting point for any decision is generating a clear description of the goal
9) We will make better decisions if we identify big risks and eliminate them
10) Leaders can create common ground by setting up ground rules and defining roles before decisions are made.

Changing your perspective can change everything. This book talks about the difference between learner/judger mindsets, and how practising the attitude of a learner can be a powerful tool at work and in relationships. It's an easy read, with a sometimes annoying narrative, but essential message.

I appreciated the easy-to-remember formula about the choice process,
A = Aware. Am I being a judger?  Is this working? 
B = Breathe! Do I need to step back, gain perspective?
C = Curiosity. What is really going on with me, and the situation? What am I missing?
D = Decide. What is my decision? How do I choose to act?

click to enlarge
The author also shared some familiar quotes:

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.
- Victor Frankl

Creativity is bound up in our ability to find new ways around old problems.
- Martin Seligman

Where you stumble, there your treasure is.
- Joseph Campbell

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