Cart Before Horse

If the goal is to make less mistakes, then we ought to first understand how we make mistakes. Because if we don’t understand how we make mistakes, we will continue making the same mistakes, even worse, not know until it’s too late.

Before you read another book, or read the Bible, or make another decision, or voice an opinion on social media — you ought to consider reading The Undoing Project. If you do not have time to read the entire book, I suggest reading Chapter 6 The Mind’s Rules and you will quickly realize the importance of reading the rest of the book.

The point remains that people do not follow the correct rule, when left to their own devices.
— The Undoing Project

Last I checked, The Bible explains why the above quote happens, but I’ll leave that for another post.

There are two errors when it comes to understanding how we make judgments and decisions. One is to believe we understand how our mind works. The other is to believe we understand, and to not feel a need to question what we believe. Considering we use our minds everyday, we ought to understand how the mind works. It should come before anything else. We need to be careful we are not putting the cart before the horse.

The Internet is the most insidious source of bullshit and misinformation in human history. The book captures nicely how we deceive ourselves without knowing through the mysteries of the mind.

Following is an example of something I took away from the book.

What happened to Jane was serious. Jane committed to a biblical worldview in which Jane’s interpretation of the Bible made sense, and that afternoon Jane saw the appeal of another worldview in which Jane’s interpretation of the Bible looked silly. Jane wonders how she could have made such a silly mistake.

Something can make perfect sense to Jane, at the same time, be completely wrong. Everything we do and believe can be traced back to one thing, how we think.

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.

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.

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.

Insightful thinking

I was reading an article on Psychology Today about insightful thinking and came across this…

I focus on what the author did not say.

Focusing on what wasn’t said helps us stimulate the mind to seek other possibilities. In my case, I am looking for more and more causes and sources behind the details of something that apply to what I’m working on. One example was this past election. During the debates, I focused on what wasn’t being said (reading between the lines) so-to-speak rather than focusing on meaningless things.

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