I challenged a doctors diagnosis back in April based on my research. I was certain the doctor was wrong. He said something about the reliability of information found online.
You have to be careful what you read online, he said.
He told me people come in all the time citing something they read online. In the same way you might hear your customers talking about what they read online. He told me, “I’ve been doing this for 37 years.” I thought to myself, that sounds familiar.
Later, on the second visit, the doctor surprisingly changed his mind. He asked, “How were you sure about the diagnosis?” I sensed he was puzzled by my findings. I downplayed it by saying, I know how to decipher data. In this case, I had to decipher bad medical advice from good medical advice in the same way I parse any information.
It came down to being able to identify inconsistencies within the information. It can be spoken words, written words, photos, etc. The analysis works at a level of deductive logic by asking, “is this even possible?” This sort of thing happens all the time, nearly every day, in all aspects of life. My choice is one of two things, 1) speak up when something is wrong or 2) say nothing and allow the “told you so” to occur on its own without saying it.
You could beat the doctor by replacing him with an equation created by people who knew nothing about medicine and had simply asked a few questions of doctors. — The Undoing Project
Typically I go with the second option, but this was a health issue. My motive lies squarely on the prevention of something. In this case, I was trying to prevent a second visit to the doctor because “efficiency.” Part of the process I go through analyzing something is to prevent something from occurring, or existing, or the need to exist. My second doctors visit didn’t need to occur.
Understanding anything requires time, analysis, and attention to detail. We need to pause life to gain a better understanding of things around us. The camera serves as a useful study tool, it allows time to stand still so we can see what is truly going on.
Let’s say, for example, we were one of many people who saw a multi-car accident and each of us questioned as a witness about what happened. Each of us may give similar stories with varying details. Some of us will be vague in our recollection. Some of us will be very confident and detailed about what happened. But can we trust our perception? Can we trust our memory? Well, they say eye-witness accounts are lousy.
I saw it with my own two eyes.
According to a report by the Innocence Project, since the 1990s, when DNA testing was first introduced, Innocence Project researchers reported 73 percent of the 239 convictions overturned through DNA testing were based on eyewitness testimony. Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, memory researcher and psychologists describes memory recollection as “more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.”
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
— Henry David Thoreau
A photo or video contains details better than our mind can recall. A photo is a record of time. We can study photos for details or clues. I rely heavily on taking photos at work. I learned not to trust my memory to recall every detail. I often find myself gaining a new understanding each time I study the same photo over a course of time. I can study a photo today and one year from now, see something completely different. A picture is worth a thousand words.
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.
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
In my line of work I often find myself talking about the “big picture” in relation to systems development. On occasion people ask me to explain what I mean by the big picture. Imagine a pile of puzzle pieces, each piece represents something connected to our business and our environment.
Seeing the big picture is having an ability to look at a pile of puzzle pieces and know what the puzzle looks like without putting it together. It’s a visionary thing. In other words, knowing how the pieces connect and work together.
In my case, that ability comes from being in business 30 years and studying each piece individually and understanding the impact each piece has on other pieces; the good pieces, the bad pieces and the gold pieces.
A disciplined analytical process allows the discovery of which pieces are irrelevant, unnecessary, obsolete, a waste of time, or have little impact, etc.
If our objective is to take-over an outpost, we need to understand the obstacles standing in our way. We could go in guns-a-blazing and hope for the best or we can stop, observe, and think things through. We can put together a plan of action.
There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
— Peter Drucker
An accurate self-assessment allows us to understand the edge of our abilities. What we do with that knowledge defines the difference between a good or great outcome.
For example, we’re not going to take-out a fully armored Heavy with a cap gun. That would be silly, but we can perform a stealth take-down with a knife from behind. Now you have his weapon. You have increased your abilities. Read more on Stealth Strategy.