InstaDecision: Four Steps to a “Blink” Moment
By Dr. Maurice A. Ramirez
last minutes before Wall Street’s closing bell on Friday, a
professional stock broker known for his nerves of steel suddenly
dumps his high risk portfolio, seemingly without regard to price or
loss. At the bar that night, his colleagues openly rib him about his
uncharacteristic behavior. When he admits he didn’t have any
research to back-up the trades, they privately wonder if “he has
lost his nerve.” The picture looked even worse as foreign markets
remained stable the following Monday morning, but that afternoon,
foreign markets began drop. The United States markets were closed
for the President’s Day holiday, when they reopened on Tuesday, the
United States markets would fall. The “skittish” stock broker had
been right, but how?
due to the recent economic turmoil, the past months have seen a
resurgence of interest in the ideals of “gut reactions,” intuition
and other versions of the insight methods described by Malcolm
Gladwell in “Blink!” Business leaders, CEO’s, physicians, disaster
field responders, professional speakers and business consultants
use both linear and non-linear decision making (logic & intuition)
to create “Blink” moments daily.
people know the linear decision making process because it is
cultivated by our educational system. It is a system based on the
collection of data to support a decision (If A and B then C, but if
A and not B then D). Few people realize that we are all born as
innately non-linear thinkers.
Goes Into a “Blink” Moment? Non-linear process is a four step
process consisting of:
Pattern Recognition: Pattern recognition is seeing the
patterns and processes behind everything you do and have done.
Remember that those with the greatest potential are those who are
the most adaptable to any circumstance. They innately understand the
process that underlies any other person’s success and can replicate
it with ease. By comparing the current circumstance to past
situations, one can more accurately predict the result of a
particular action or intervention.
Acknowledge Framing Bias: Think about what happens before a
manager goes into a meeting or a doctor enters an examination room.
Rarely will people walk into the situation “cold.” They are briefed
on who they’re going to meet and what they’re supposed to
accomplish. They draw certain preconceptions, which are called a
as you know what your framing bias is upfront, then you can allow
the situation to develop organically. With framing bias recognized,
you can account for your feelings and your impressions, using them
as an analytical tool. That’s the essence of heuristics—taking your
feelings and impressions and using them analytically.
you can fully immerse yourself in another’s viewpoint, you must see
with “fresh eyes.” First, identify what your preconceptions are
about the situation. Second, once you’ve identified them, clear your
mind and explore the experience for the first time. What’s your
first impression? Are you reacting to your preconceived ideas or
because you are looking at the situation through fresh eyes? This is
not easy. “Fresh eyes” come from the subtraction of your framing
bias from your overall impression and perception of the situation.
Through this process the patterns that you are comparing are more
distinct and in sharper relief.
Heuristic Introspection: Heuristic introspection is a non-linear
thought process in which you must “be your customer”. Much like how
a fine artist “knows” if a painting or musical composition “works”
by going with their “gut,” you and your employees should “know” what
a customer wants.
Heuristic Introspection is based on the concept that as a member of
a community, cultural group and larger society, you are a microcosm
of each. Although many traditional sciences scoff at a “sample size
of one,” other sciences find that by truly understanding the one
sample available, conclusions can be extrapolated about the group as
a whole. Since you are a microcosm of your world, perceiving and
reacting as your peers would, introspection allows insight into your
larger social group.
think heuristically, you truly understand the customers’ wants and
needs. The next time you want to know how your customers would feel
about a particular product or service, adapt a non-linear
(heuristic) research approach and become a part of your study base.
Your focus group of one (you) will guide your initial thought
process toward reaching your customers.
Empathy: Empathy is quite literally to “walk a mile in the shoes
of our customers,” that is to become one with your customers. You
will best understand others by understanding their feeling. While
Heuristic Introspection allows you to extrapolate the feelings of
others based on your feelings (sympathy), Empathy allows you to
understand their feelings by being accepting of their
feelings. Empathy is the art of emotional listening.
Helping Yourself Blink! How can you now translate what you’ve
discovered into a reproducible decision?
you’re developing an ad for jogging shoes, you need to think like a
runner—even if you’re not one. Why do people run? What is important
to runners? How does running make people feel? After you’ve
collected your personal research, you’ll be able to speak in the
first person as a runner. Pretend you’re one of those successful
fiction authors writing under a pseudonym. Tell your story like you
live it. Now your customers will be able to personally connect with
you because you’ve become one of them.
part of the story, even if you aren’t part of the product story.
Generally, people like and dislike the same things. If not, you’d
never have to wait in line for your favorite roller coaster at an
amusement park. What do you feel? Listen to your emotions—chances
are your customers’ gut would tell them the same thing. You may not
identify with the problem, but you’ll know what you need to do to
make it feel “right.”
people underestimate the power of nonlinear decision making? There
are two reasons that nonlinear decision making and inductive
reasoning are less valued than linear decision making and deductive
reasoning. Both are based on the misperception that nonlinear
decision making and inductive reasoning are inherently
irreproducible, unverifiable, unpredictable and thus unreliable.
Despite that fact that humans are born as empathic, introspective
and unbiased "pattern recognition machines," the vast majority
become linear deductive decision makers. Through their educational
experiences and the very basis of our scientific society, deductive
is valued over inductive and linear over nonlinear.
the nonlinear and inductive skills are atrophied, those that
undervalue what they can no longer do easily (nonlinear decision
making) believe that these skills are unlearnable. Nothing could be
further from the truth.
Recognition is an innate human function that ensures our survival in
infancy and aids in our safety in daily living. It is easily taught
and augmented. Acknowledging Framing Bias is not an innate
function, but is very learnable and since it does not require the
shedding of bias, is also readily implemented.
Heuristic Introspection is partially innate. All humans are born
with a degree of introspection especially when dealing with ones own
needs. Walking in the shoes of another is not an innate behavior,
but understanding our reaction in that situation and using that
information is trainable.
is yet another innate function that ensures our ability to identify
and even predict the emotional impact of an event on others. Empathy
is a practiced skill and the strength of one's empathy grows as one
exercises that empathy. In short the problem is not that "gut" is
unreliable or "sample size of one" is too small. The problem is in
those who devalue this innate human ability.
fault lies not in our stars Horachio, but in ourselves." - William
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Dr. Maurice Ramirez.
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