The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights
The author is a distinguished research psychologist and consultant who clarifies the conditions that help spark - or inhibit - insights: those startling new understandings that break through the minutiae, nonsense and fog that hold back personal and professional performance.
It offers insights - like Darwin's understanding of the way evolution actually works, or Watson and Crick's breakthrough about DNA - can change the world. But we also need insights into the everyday things that frustrate and confuse us so that we can become more effective at getting things done.
Yet, we know very little about how insights are formed and what blocks them. Gary Klein unravels the mystery in a book that is at once sophisticated as well as entertaining and fun to read.
Gary Klein is a keen observer of people in their natural settings - scientists, businesspeople, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, family members, friends, himself - and uses a marvellous variety of stories to develop a new understanding of insight: not just an a-ha moment or flash of illumination, but a new way of understanding what sparks insights:
- What, for example, enabled Harry Markopolos to put the finger on Bernie Madoff?
- How did Dr. Michael Gottlieb, a physician and assistant professor at UCLA, make the connections between different patients and publish the first announcement of the AIDS epidemic?
- What did Admiral Yamamoto see (and what did the Americans miss) in a 1940 British attack on the Italian fleet that enabled him to develop the strategy of attack at Pearl Harbor?
- How did a `smoke-jumper` see that setting another fire would save him, while those who ignored his insight perished?
- How did Michael Chalfie come up with a million-dollar idea (and a Nobel Prize) for a natural flashlight enabling researchers to look inside living organisms to watch their biological processes in action?
Klein also dissects impediments to insight: How organizations claim they want creativity and breakthroughs but in reality block disruptive ideas, preferring instead to avoid mistakes. Why information technology systems are too often `dumb by design` and block insights. How plain old stupidity makes us fail to see connections and detect contradictions and inconsistencies.