Friday, October 28, 2005

Blink Blink...What Do I Think?

Thoughts on Blink (The Book by Malcolm Gladwell): Warning: The thoughts are raw/unfinished

One reason why one should rely on intuitive feelings rather than on technical/scientific analysis, at times, is that those who gather data and utilize statistical tools to analyze could be parties with vested interests. They are prone to pick up information that are advantageous to them and simply base their analysis on those few selected numbers and conveniently ignore/turn a blind eye or, even worse, mask the other numbers. And anyways - vested interests or not - in most situations - analysis or no analysis - it is all about the one of the most-abused words 'perception'. Even analysis can be based on perception; The inputs taken for analysis can be CHOSEN/FILTERED/TWEAKINTERPRETEDTED to suit one's preferences/prejudices/biases/understanding. In other words, using intuition to decide what to analyze is a possibility that may lead to an intuition based decision despite an analytical process occurring in between the preliminary data collection and final decision!

Having said that, I should also add something that is a contradiction of sorts - I think that practiced and deliberate analysis irrespective of whether they lead to successes or failures (rights/wrongs) also teach, in the long run, us to be intuitive. Yes... because, ultimately they give you a feel for whatever you're doing; they get things ingrained in you; they become your extension and transform your thinking by converting continuous analysis into intuition (inherent knowledge not necessarily uninfluenced by external factors). In the book Blink, the very first example of art connoisseurs involves snap decisions, but one has to take into consideration these snap decisions are made by experienced folks, that is, people who've seen, felt, analyzed (etc etc) art before. It is this very experience and practice that eventually leads to a situation wherein one can make snap decisions. Snap decisions rarely come without practice/experience. If a small child shows exceptional talent in a particular field, the phenomenon is admittedly almost impossible to explain except if it has medical roots. But in the case of adult skill sets and expertise, it is probably only information overload over a period of time that helps one learn how to filter information in the first place, distinguish between the important and the insignificant and eventually almost automatically/mechanically, get to only that which is required. This does not mean that this person can do without outside data - An essential trait to be retained would be the ability to listen to one's own reasoning and feelings despite overwhelming data from the outside world. One should be able to think her way out despite contradicting information bellowing for attention. That is also intuition to be able to analyze (speed of analysis may vary from person to person and this would perhaps be a reflection of one's inherent intuitive abilities) and make sense out of the multitude.

Update - Hey, what the hell am I trying to say here, after all? Okay. It all boils down to 2 things:

- Let's not forget that analysis does not mean absence of intuition and 'subjectivity' as we do use subjective opinions to choose what to analyze and ignore data that doesn't fit into our paradigms

- Intuition (as in the talent) is many a time, the result of shrewd analysis and pattern recognition over long periods of time!

And, ahem....I recently read in an article (The discipline of innovation) by the late Peter Drucker that even he believed that intuition does not come comes after arduous years of analysis!

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