Indecision can be a business killer, part 4

Now, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingIn direct contrast to the previous books, Malcolm Gladwell dedicates Blink to our brain’s ability to make judgments in the blink of an eye, resulting in delightfully and surprisingly accurate decisions that we struggle to explain. He explains that this is possible when we draw a conclusion based on narrow “slices” of experience.

Gladwell says snap judgments are most accurate when two things are present: experience and expertise. We must train our intuition.

For example, a firefighter who has fought hundreds of fires can make a snap decision to leave a burning building seconds before it collapses because he’s been in similar situations many times before. Without being conscious of it, his brain is instantly detecting a pattern based on previous experiences.

Gladwell acknowledges that while snap judgments can be accurate, they can go horribly wrong, especially when we’re under stress.

Consider this. At Cook County ER,  Lee Goldman created an algorithm to determine which patients complaining of chest pain should be admitted for a possible heart attack. The algorithm took into account only three pieces of information, but was 70% more accurate than the doctors, who had much more information.

Gladwell reminds us:

  • Successful decision-making relies on a balance between deliberate and intuitive thinking. When you’re an expert with experience in a specific situation, snap decisions can be accurate. But the Cook County ER was able to more accurately diagnose potential heart attacks in patients thanks to Lee Goldman’s algorithm.
  • When making a decision, less is more. Beware of paralysis by analysis. Opt for less information; stick to only what is essential.

This method for making decisions is the most difficult by far, in my opinion. Basically, it says to rely on your expertise if you’re an expert, but keep in mind that even experts need to sometimes separate themselves from a decision and rely on something more objective.

Is your organization full of expertise, but still struggling in some areas? #GetPEOPLE. Focus. Leave the rest to us.

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