When it came to painting a picture with words, Steve Jobs was a genius. In this video, he describes computers as bicycle for the mind. Here’s what he says —
I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts.
And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.
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Michael Schumacher is widely regarded as the greatest Formula One driver of all time. He holds following records —
- Most World Championship titles — seven times
- Most Grand Prix wins — 91 times
- Most number of fastest laps — 77 times, and
- Most races won in a single season — 13 times
You could call him the Sachin Tendulkar of racing. Which brings me to the fact that Tendulkar himself has been a long time fan of Michael Schumacher. In 2002, Sachin met with Schumi. Both being sportsmen, they must have exchanged a few notes about keeping fit.
Sachin came back astounded with the amount of time that Schumi devoted to just one part of his body: the neck. “He exercises it for one-and-half hours. Can you believe it?” he marvelled.
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Excerpt from the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
Most people in an organization aren’t in charge of formulating strategy; they just have to understand the strategy and use it to make decisions. But many strategies aren’t concrete enough to resolve a well established psychological bias called decision paralysis. Psychologists have uncovered situations where the mere existence of choice, even choice among several good options, seems to paralyze us in making decisions.
Barry Swartz in his book The Paradox of Choice has covered the idea of Decision Paralysis in detail.
Heaths write —
Every organization must make choices among attractive options: Customer service versus cost minimization. Revenue growth versus maximizing profitability. Quality versus speed to market. People development versus the needs of the quarter. Mix together lots of these tensions—an atmosphere full of potential opportunities and risks and uncertainties and incomplete information—and you’ve got a recipe for paralysis.
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Excerpt from the book Antifragile —
Consider this need to do-something through an illustrative example. In the 1930s, 389 children were presented to New York City doctors; 174 of them were recommended tonsillectomies [surgically removing the tonsil, a small bell shaped piece of organ hanging inside your throat]. The remaining 215 children were again presented to doctors, and 99 were said to need the surgery. When the remaining 116 children were shown to yet a third set of doctors, 52 were recommended the surgery…note that a death occurs in abo ut every 15000 such operations…every child who undergoes an unnecessary operation has a shortening of her life expectancy.
When you medicate a child for an imagined or invented psychiatric disease, say, ADHD or depression, instead of letting him out of the cage, the long-term harm is largely unaccounted for.
…the doctor who refrains from operating on a back (a very expensive surgery), instead giving it a chance to heal itself, will not be rewarded and judged as favourably as the doctor who makes the surgery look indispensable, then brings relief to the patient while exposing him to operating risks, while accruing great financial rewards to himself.
It’s an underlying human tendency to say ‘Look what I did for you’ than ‘Look what I avoided for you.’
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An excerpt from the book The McKinsey Way —
If you watched TV in the 1970s, you may remember Peter Falk’s trenchcoat-wearing detective, Lieutenant Columbo. After he finished quizzing a murder suspect about her whereabouts on the night in question, he would pick up his rumpled raincoat and head out the door. As he reached the threshold and was about to leave, he would turn around, stick his finger up to his temple, and say, “Excuse me, ma’am, but there’s something I forgot to ask.” This question invariably gave Columbo the answer he needed to figure out who did it.
If there’s a particular question you need to answer to, or a piece of data that you want, the Columbo tactic is often a good way to get it. Once the interview is over, everybody becomes more relaxed. The interviewee’s sense that you have some power over him will have disappeared. He is far less likely to be defensive, and will often tell you what you need or give you the information you seek on the spot. Try it; it works.
The Columbo Tactic is a psychological maneuver used by persuasion experts. It’s a subtle hack that goes unnoticed if one doesn’t know about it but it can get you what they want from others, i.e., compliance.
I have been at the receiving end of The Columbo Tactic at least once in my life.
In December 2003, I was resigning from my first job. The Vice President invited me to his cabin for an exit interview. He was obviously concerned because I was leaving the company after spending merely five months. The meeting was done in 20 minutes and I was stepping out of his office. Just when my one foot was out of his cabin, he fired the Columbo shot.
“By the way Anshul, are you sure there is no other reason for leaving the company?”
That was 15 years back but now I can connect the dots. The VP did know a thing or two about human psychology and persuasion tactics.