A renowned cognitive psychologist reveals the science behind achieving breakthrough discoveries, allowing readers to confidently solve problems, improve decision-making, and achieve success.
Insights-like Darwin's understanding of the way evolution actually works, and Watson and Crick's breakthrough discoveries about the structure of DNA-can change the world. Yet we know very little about when, why, or how insights are formed-or what blocks them. In Seeing What Others Don't, Gary Klein unravels the mystery.
Klein is a keen observer of people in their natural settings-scientists, businesspeople, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, family members, friends, himself-and uses a marvelous variety of stories to illuminate his research into what insights are and how they happen. What, for example, enabled Harry Markopolos to put the finger on Bernie Madoff? How did Dr. Michael Gottlieb make the connections between different patients that allowed him to publish the first announcement of the AIDS epidemic? How did Martin Chalfie come up with a million-dollar idea (and a Nobel Prize) for a natural flashlight that enabled researchers to look inside living organisms to watch biological processes in action?
Klein also dissects impediments to insight, such as when organizations claim to value employee creativity and to encourage breakthroughs but in reality block disruptive ideas and prioritize avoidance of mistakes. Or when information technology systems are "dumb by design" and block potential discoveries.
Both scientifically sophisticated and fun to read, Seeing What Others Don't shows that insight is not just a "eureka!" moment but a whole new way of understanding.
Klein (The Power of Intuition) investigates the ways in which people can have a sudden insight that results in new inventions, revisions of accepted beliefs, or even winning fantasy baseball. After years of studying decision-making, Klein finds that insight is much harder to quantify. Creating a definition, that insight is "an unexpected shift to a better story", took him considerable time. Using examples from history, current events and his own experience, Klein developed a list of factors that contribute to insight: connections, coincidence, curiosities, contradictions, and creative desperation. These traits are blended with experience and an ability to improvise. His analysis of how Google searches and corporate culture inhibit insight is intriguing, while suggestions for improving the chances of having a breakthrough are practical and useful for many facets of life. They include: listen to what others are saying; rather than argue, ask how they arrived at their conclusion and pay attention to their thought processes; and be open to changing the way you think and perceive. While this is a fascinating preliminary report, Klein seems to know that he has only begun to research the topic; The Grand Unified Theory of insight has yet to be discovered.