The Path Ahead

Imagine walking through the mall. On the left and right of the storefront displays we see all sorts of things that grab our attention, but we have a specific destination in mind and cannot become distracted by impulse.

It would take 86 hours to get through the mall if you only spent 10 minutes in each store.

The difference in how we think is being able NOT to take action on impulses. Remember, they are distractions keeping us from reaching our destination. Don’t be late! Notice them, maybe even appreciate their existence, but stay focused on the path ahead. Be aware how much the little things consume our time.

Two Choices

An example of why we need to question our intuition.

Imagine a Y in the road ahead. We have two choices, ( a ) go left, or ( b ) go right. One is a choice based on how we feel (gut instinct). The other is a choice knowing which way to go.

There will be two different destinations ahead depending on which way we turn (two different outcomes). One will take us to our destination, the other will take us to an unknown destination.

Do not trust anyone, including yourself, to tell you how much you should trust their judgment.
— Daniel Kahneman Ph.D., Psychology

The driver has GPS and knows going left is correct, but the passengers intuition says go right (not knowing the driver has GPS). The drivers decision was strategic from the start. Having a strategy helps make sure we hit the target. We need to choose our paths carefully. This is why we get lost and stop to ask for directions. We use GPS because we know our intuition or (gut feelings) are not always right.

Pseudo-experts

The other day I found myself in a discussion about the difference between an expert and non-expert. I gave it some thought over the past couple days.

The difference between an expert and a pseudo-expert is that experts are self-evident. They are simply expert because they treat everything like it’s their job where pseudo-experts simply mimic experts like a parrot without putting in the effort.

Pseudo-experts lack the “real-world” progressive process engagement disciplines an expert goes through. It is not a pragmatic “hands-on” experience of deeper knowledge like an expert. The pseudo-experts’ process is to simply copy and repeat which often comes through their inauthentic persona because they lack the heuristics.

Experts are operationally defined as those who have been recognized within their profession as having the necessary skills and abilities to perform at the highest level.
— James Shanteau Ph.D., Psychologist

Think of pseudo-experts as social media actors lacking experience although they believe they are. They fail to recognize their limited experience, false sense of reality, and illusion of validity comes from copying experts. Which is why they seem disconnected and fall apart when questioned on the work they copy.

And finally, copycats are followers, not leaders, yet you’ll find them in positions as leaders. I suppose that would make them pseudo-leaders or something. I’m not sure, I would need to think about it more.

Does that make sense? Surely there is more to it than a surface perspective.

Quote Source: Shanteau, James. (1992). Competence in experts: The role of task characteristics. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 53, 252–262.

Did you know? The male African gray parrot (Psittacus erithacus) is the most accomplished user of human speech in the animal world; this rain forest-dweller is an uncanny mimic. – National Geographic

Cut to the Chase

I am always impressed by simple systems. Here is one example I often experience ordering food; it could be Chinese, pizza, or the deli. The entire phone call in under 20 seconds.

Dial the phone number… phone rings…

Hi Brian. Thank you for calling blank. Would you like the same thing you ordered last time?

Me: yes

Okay, great. See you at 4:40

Me: thank you

This is Broke

The short version for how it works for me is this… There appears to be an ability to look at something and know with certainty it’s missing something. It doesn’t matter what it is. In other words, to achieve <this> then these <things> need to occur, which was the case discovering a flaw in the management software (performance evaluations and benchmarking algorithms). If any of the <things> are missing, the result is flawed. The flaw is noticed first, then worked backwards to discover the cause.

The cause of a mistake matters.
— Daniel Kahneman Ph.D., Psychology

The only problem is not understanding this magical ability, how it occurs, and the source of its accuracy because there is no clear way to know where intuition comes from. Intuition takes precedence followed by rational thought. In other words, both sides of the brain are working towards the accuracy of the outcome.

Some people process information quite different from others. Which is why I wondered why no one in the company (the 4th largest employer in the world) spotted the software flaw and they work with it every day. We’re talking thousands of employees. I come along and sit in front of it for a minute and say, “This is broke.” I find that odd. How did the software developers miss it?

It’s really the epitome of when they say INTJ’s see things others can’t see, which is why it is difficult to win an argument against an INTJ. People often fail to take into account what they are unable to see (what they don’t know) which lends to a shallow opposing position for their argument. They are not seeing the big picture, but somehow these strong intuitives are jerks for exposing a flaw in their argument. It would be like going to court and arguing with half the evidence and getting angry at the judge because you failed to build a solid case.

I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.
— Charlie Munger

If intuition is considered a magical phenomenon of hunches based on past experiences and knowledge, then how do we explain when we sense danger if the moment leading to the sense of danger never occurred before or how do we know when someone is staring at us from across the room when we’ve never seen the person before? I think both scenarios are different from how I identified a flaw in the management software.

*This post will be updated to include the other missing half.  This portion represents the basis of an ongoing discussion elsewhere on and offline.

Frugal Illusion

Jim always looks for good deals. He is all about saving money. Jim spends many hours looking for cheap help.

Anything to save a buck, Jim says.

Jim was outraged by the bids he received for a project he was working on. He thought it would be a good idea to save money by doing some of the work himself.

So Jim spends $2,400 on rental equipment and the next 30 days doing some of the work to save $700 off the bid.

Jim is smart. Be like Jim.

Half Full Half Empty

Optimism is a mental attitude. A common idiom used to illustrate optimism versus pessimism is a glass with water at the halfway point, where the optimist is said to see the glass as half full and the pessimist sees the glass as half empty.

Being optimistic, in the typical sense of the word, is defined as expecting the best possible outcome from any given situation. This is usually referred to in psychology as depositional optimism. It thus reflects a belief that future conditions will work out for the best.

Only the facts please, says the INTJ.

Speaking of optimism… “They have an illusion of control, they seriously underestimate the obstacles, they seem to suffer from an acute case of competitor neglect. This is a case of overconfidence. They seem to believe they know more than they actually do know.” — Daniel Kahneman Ph.D., Psychology

It was nice to see much needed awareness on the topic of optimism, delusion, illusion, wishful thinking, and positive thinking discussed in the book Thinking, Fast and Slow. As an INTJ, I view being overly optimistic as dangerous and unhealthy and the book provides many examples explaining why. One of the more significant examples mentioned in the book was the 2008 financial crisis.

There are overly optimistic wishful thinkers and there are actually people who take control of things and go great lengths to make sure things happen in the future instead of hoping things work out for the best. I know it sounds crazy, but its true.

Are you considered overly optimistic? Learn how to take control of optimism to help you make smarter decisions. The book is a great place to start. It’s important we know things instead of thinking or believing we know, because a glass half full or half empty is an opinion.

The Lesson

Everything we touch and interact with at work on a daily basis is a piece of the puzzle. Combined they are pieces of the big picture. Each piece holds a value within our work environment. It could be our customers, a brush, a roller, or the drill used to remove hardware. All of the pieces play a role in our success. The pieces have the potential to make or break our business. Never underestimate how little things can make a big difference.

The people who have become successful in business recognize the importance of using good pieces. It could be their customers, sales team, estimators, marketing, products, whatever. The underlying message I’ve pushed throughout the last 20 years is to get “good pieces.”

The more good pieces we use, the better.

The next time we give an estimate, or make a new hire, or buy a new brush, roller, or sprayer, ask yourself, “Is this a good piece of the puzzle?” Is this a good fit? Does this piece fit good with the other pieces? We need to avoid allowing our emotions get in the way of clear thinking and stop making poor decisions.

When we make choices based on how much money we saved on gallon of paint or primer, or a brush, or a new hire ⎯- we are basing our decisions on the wrong principles for the system that ultimately makes us money. Sometimes we need to step back and carefully look at the pieces.

Always be thinking… smart decisions = smart results.

Necessary but not Sufficient

Using something such as a paint brush is not sufficient to understanding it in the same way reading a book is not sufficient to understanding it. The Bible is an exceptional example because it can be read and interpreted differently, however, that does not mean we understand it. We think we understand until we take a closer look and different parsing of the text “in context” of Scripture.

The brush, although a necessary part of painting, may not be sufficient for reaching our full potential in the same way reading a book on Goals is no guarantee we’ll ever achieve goals. We need to understand why we fail at accomplishing things to avoid failure.

Understanding anything takes a disciplined, data-driven methodology to distinguish the difference between thinking we understand and knowing we understand. I am all for wanting to do things the easy way or take the shortest route, but I know, that only gets me so far. Let’s face it, we need to step outside our comfort zone to make things happen. We need to think and look at things differently.

Necessary But Not Sufficient
Eliyahu M. Goldratt , Carol A. Ptak