Tag Archives: Leonard Mlodinow

It’s Mostly Random, So Just Do Something

Several recent books showcase Big Ideas in innovation:

  • Success often has random elements
  • Active experiments and reflective “incubation” are required for effective innovation.
Frans Johansson

Frans Johansson

Frans Johansson argues that most success “comes from things we cannot predict and plan: serendipitous moments, unexpected and spontaneous approaches, unusual combinations, and lucky breaks,” in the form of “click moments”, which can move people and ideas to a new, unexpected direction” in in Click: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World.

Leonard Mlodinow

Leonard Mlodinow

Johansson, Leonard Mlodinow and Nate Silver (“American statistician, sabermetrician, psephologist”) all demonstrate that events are more random than people typically acknowledge, and Johansson recommends specific actions that individuals and organizations can take to favorably focus this randomness

Nate Silver

Nate Silver

Follow your curiosity:  Capitalize on interests and “passions” to drive creative explorations

  • Use cross-disciplinary, “inter-sectional” thinking to break “associative barriers”
  • Examine surprises and unintended consequences for possible inspiration and re-usable ideas
  • Be aware of opportunities everywhere, requiring a mindful engagement rather than living “automatically”, and explore “all” opportunities
  • Scan for momentum and align to it
  • Choose a less predictable, or more “contrarian” solution
  • Act: Place many “purposeful bets” to try many options, with no expectation or guarantee of “success”
  • Minimize bet size to reduce the impact of loss
  • Take the smallest executable step (measured by time, money, partners)
  • Calculate acceptable loss rather than focusing on return on investment
  • Create “large hooks” to scaffold and leverage creative “borrowing” from existing sources
  • Shift focus from the problem to enable cognitive “incubation” of ideas
  • “Double down” when opportunities are not obvious

Many of these recommendations are more similar to behaviors intended to increase creativity and innovation than to quantitative finesse maneuvers.

For example Johansson’s recommendation to engage in “purposeful bets” draws from Peter Sims’ recommendations to place Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, which are low-risk experiments to discover, develop, and test an idea.

  • Experiment to “fail quickly to learn fast”  – see post on Eddie Obeng
  • “Play”  by establishing a fun environment to cultivate innovation
  • Immerse  by interacting with customers
  • Reorient by make celebrating small wins and undertaking improvement “pivots”
  • Iterate by frequently testing, refining and improving-*How do you detect and optimize opportunities?
    -*How do you manage uncertainty in your career?

See more recommendations to boost innovation and creativity at: How and Who of Innovation  LinkedIn Open Group The Executive Coach

Related posts
Cognitive Biases in Unconscious Automatic Mental Processing, and “Work-Arounds”

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Biases in Unconscious Automatic Mental Processing, and “Work-Arounds”

Leonard Mlodinow

Leonard Mlodinow

Leonard Mlodinow’s Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior reviews evidence of automatic, out-of-awareness brain processing that handles emotional experience and routine task execution, in the same vein as  best sellers by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow) and writer Malcolm Gladwell (Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking).

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman

All three authors outline the potential costs of rapid mental processing: error and bias in perception and decision-making, which are less present during mindful analytic problem-solving.

Mlodinow, a Physics Professor at CalTech, has collaborated with Stephen Hawking on two books, and like Kahneman and Gladwell, is a talented storyteller who explains implications of laboratory-based research on cognition and brain functioning.

Carol Tavris

Carol Tavris

Psychologist Carol Tavris discusses the cost of similar biases in cognitive processing in Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, 

Numerous studies of erroneous eyewitness testimony demonstrate that memory is constructed of fragmentary elements “stitched” together to form a cohesive narrative.
This contrasts the notion that memory is a “snapshot” replica of an event.

Opportunities for cognitive error are apparent in this Constructivist view of perception and cognition.

Most authors suggest “mindful” practices to counteract inherent biases in cognitive short-cuts, consciously focusing in present perceptions and experiences.

Mlodinow’s previous book, The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, demystifies the use of statistics in everyday life, and prepares readers with considered questions to avoid mis-judgments based on seemingly convincing quantitative data.

He demonstrates the prevalence of chance influences in life outcomes, and the pervasive illusion that people have control over many more outcomes than they actually do.

Mlodinow reminds readers that “success” and “failure” contain random influences, and “success” is more dependent on persistence and maintaining an optimistic outlook than raw ability.

-*What practices have helped you mitigate potential cognitive bias associated with rapid mental processing and cognitive “short-cuts”?

*Related posts:

LinkedIn Open Group Women in Technology (sponsored by EMC)
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Facebook Notes:
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds
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