5 January 2016

Book: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell


After enjoying so many of his TED talks and online articles I thought it was about time I put some money Gladwell's way and bought one of his books.

I liked the way he's sectioned up the book, it made for a fast-paced read. Blink sucked me in with the opening paragraphs telling whimsical tales about the psychology of art forgery and gambling. Then - just when I'd settled into the mindset of a glamourous George Clooney heist movie - I suddenly found myself neck-deep in military tactics, autism, police shootings, subconscious gender and racial bias and I actually felt a bid sad by the end. Even if he did praise improvisational comedy theatre, a pursuit that I embrace with much love, albeit in an amateur capacity.

Expecting (possibly naively) some practical lessons to apply in everyday life, instead I found many fascinating stories that are inspiring and frustrating in equal measure. As much as I want to experiment with my new-found understanding, Gladwell has (probably very responsibly) made it quite clear that people can get their fingers burnt by the same human ability that gives experts their expertise.

I noticed he references Gary Klein - Sources of Power, the same book that Steve Krug cites in Don't Make Me Think. However Gladwell's take-home from Klein is that professionals making decisions in high-stress critical situations make viable decisions as opposed to non-viable ones without thinking, whereas Krug chose to focus on the fact that those same decisions are only the first viable option, not the best one.  Two subtly different interpretations that had me momentarily convinced I had found a disagreement. But I hadn't.