Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wait: The Art and Science of Delay Book Review

Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, by author Frank Partnoy, is probably the perfect book to read as a follow up to Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, my review here.

Wait is another book about decision making. Whether you are a CEO of a billion dollar company, or just going out with friends, we all could benefit from a better understanding of what impacts our abilities to make decisions.

Partnoy, acknowledges, Gladwell's recent book, but criticizes his emphasis on thin-slicing being only two seconds long.

"Stop for a moment now and think about the idea of thin slicing. When we thin slice we detect patterns in an event even if we see only a narrow portion of that event. The key to the concept is that we reach a conclusion even though we don’t have the full picture. Thin slicing is driven by the unconscious system because it takes the lead over the conscious system in decisionmaking during such a short period.

But thin slicing is almost never about just two seconds. In fact, not even the titles of the leading articles on thin slicing are about two seconds. The revolutionary paper by Ambady and Rosenthal is entitled “Half a Minute.” John Gottman’s coauthored study of video tapes of couples is called “Predicting Divorce Among Newlyweds from the First Three Minutes of a Marital Conflict Discussion.” Minutes, not seconds."

Despite the criticism, the concept is sound. More recently, Ambady and other coauthors defined a thin slice as “any excerpt of dynamic information less than five minutes long.”

Lest I lead you to believe this book is just written in retaliation to Gladwell, let me address some of the other points that I found relevant and interesting.

To which I must say that any author that quotes Douglas Adams gets a gold star in my book.
"One of the main reasons why “Don’t panic” is such valuable guidance is that the sudden onslaught of fear we label panic can seriously interfere with our ability to decide on the best course of action. Panic makes it difficult for us to use logic or reason. Panic shuts down our conscious system 2 and leads us to rely on our primal automatic system 1. Relying on system 1 is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if we are experts."

Partnoy also graciously assuages my guilt of procrastination. "active procrastination is smart: it simply means managing delay, putting off projects that don’t need to be done right away. In contrast, passive procrastination is dumb, equivalent to laziness."

Some final notes related to our working lives.
"A second approach is “event time,” where we continue doing something until we finish or some event occurs. For example, you might start work, not at 9 a.m. (clock time), but after you finish breakfast (event time)."

"Efficiency means going fast; effectiveness means being complete, even if it takes longer."

"If we are motivated to accomplish something important in our work, we will be willing to wait decades and understand that jobs we start might not be finished until after we are gone. Hourly pay eats away at this philosophy and ultimately makes work less fulfilling."

This last quote is especially interesting if you consider grandiose achievements of our world. When you read that, what came to mind? I thought about the architectural wonders that took years or decades to create, Notre Dame, Statue of Liberty, or even the iconic LDS temple in SLC. Each was a massive undertaking, but well worth the wait.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails