Book Author: Malcom Gladwell
Book Review by : S S George
Director, ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research)
Blink, Malcom Gladwell, first impressions, decision, experiments, aggressively, bold, rude,bother, disturb, espect, considerate, politely, patiently, yield, thin slicing, intuitive repulsion, white space
And as an aside, what are the most important indicators of a potentially troubled marriage? According to Gottman, they are what he calls the Four Horsemen: defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism and contempt. In fact, even among these, Gottman considers contempt to be by far the most important. If one partner in a marriage demonstrates contempt towards the other partner, Gottman knows that the marriage is in trouble.
However, when another group of students was asked to rank the same jams, and also asked to explain their rankings, the rankings given the new group failed to match those given by experts. According to the author, this happened because
"introspection destroyed [the students'] ability to solve insight problems." While the experts could explain in detail how one jam was superior or inferior to another, ordinary people were not able to do so.
Towards the end of the book, the author discusses how we can develop the power to make quick decisions, and avoid the problems inherent in such decisions. He gives the example of the unfortunate incident in New York, where four white police officers shot and killed Amadou Diallo, an unarmed immigrant from Guinea. Seeing Diallo stand at the doorway of an apartment building in a poor and crime-prone neighborhood, the officers attempted to question him. Instead of appearing to answer, he turned and ran into the building. The officers gave chase, and seeing Diallo stop at the door of his apartment, reach into his pocket and pull out an object, shot him dead. The object that Diallo was pulling out of his wallet turned out to be his wallet.
According to the author, the officers involved in this may have lost their ability to mind read
- to pick up cues from the actions and facial expressions of their unfortunate victim. Under extremely stressful situations, with little time to think before acting, the human facility to mind read in this manner is lost. In such situations, the solution is to prepare carefully and work systematically so that there is enough
'white space'- time available to analyze and react to a potential threat - so that the reaction is appropriate to the situation. In situations where the police have to apprehend dangerous suspects, the author believes that adherence to the correct police procedure would minimize the number of potentially deadly encounters.
As a final example of the power of snap judgment unclouded by preconceptions and prejudices, the author describes the selection of women musicians for orchestras. For many years, women musicians were considered inferior to men on many instruments, and discriminated against in selection to orchestras. Once the auditions for selection began to be held behind screens (so that the judges could not see anything of the performer, but could only listen to the music), more women began to be selected. The screen served to eliminate many of the biases in the selection, with the result that the selectors could make better decisions.
The book is well written and extremely interesting, and gives several fresh perspectives on the process of human decision-making. It is definitely worth reading.
More ICMR India Case Studies
|Business Environment||Business Ethics||Business Reports||Business Strategy|
|Corporate Governance||Economics||Enterprise Risk Management||Finance|
|HRM||Innovation||Insurance||IT and Systems|
|Leadership and Entrepreneurship||Marketing||Miscellaneous||Operations|
|Project Management||Short Case Studies||Cases in other Languages||Free Case Studies|