Seeing What Others Don't: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights

Seeing What Others Don't: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights

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by Gary Klein
     
 

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Insights—Darwin’s understanding of the way evolution actually works, Watson and Crick’s breakthrough about DNA—can change the world. But we also need insights into the 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.

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Overview

Insights—Darwin’s understanding of the way evolution actually works, Watson and Crick’s breakthrough about DNA—can change the world. But we also need insights into the 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, a leading psychologist and decision-making expert, unravels the mystery in a book that is at once sophisticated and fun to read.

Gary Klein is a keen observer of people in their natural settings—scientists, business-people, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, family members, friends, himself—and uses a marvelous variety of stories to illuminate his research. Readers will discover that insight is not just an “a-ha” moment or flash of illumination, but a new way of understanding that occurs under certain psychological and environmental conditions.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
Experimental psychologist Klein (Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making, 2009, etc.) examines the transformative role of creative insight. The author recounts a story that a policeman told him about a routine patrol, during which his partner noticed the driver of a new BMW flicking cigarette ash on the car's upholstery and immediately realized that the vehicle was stolen. Klein decided to explore the mechanism behind such aha moments. Seeking to discover "how people come up with unexpected insights in their work," he began to search for clues by systematically collecting human interest stories. These include accounts by firefighters who survived life-threatening situations by improvising, Dr. Michael Gottlieb's realization that the epidemic killing young gay men was an immune disorder, and financial analyst Harry Markopolos' recognition that Bernie Madoff had to be a crook. Two decades earlier, Klein was one of the pioneers in the field of "naturalist decision making, which studies the way people think in natural settings," as opposed to contrived laboratory experiments. He used the same method to probe the creative process, and he shares a fascinating array of illustrative examples of creativity--e.g., Darwin's recognition of the role of natural selection and Daniel Boone's rescue of his daughter from Indian kidnappers. After painstaking analysis, Klein identified the three primary drivers: making unexpected connections (the policeman's observation), identifying contradictions (Markopolos smelled a fraud) and being driven to despair by an unresolved problem (Gottlieb's dying HIV patients). In each case, the bottom line was freedom to substitute out-of-the-box thinking for a preconceived, systematic approach and the willingness to take the risk of making errors. Intriguing findings that should play a transformative role, not only in the field of psychology, but also in corporate boardrooms.
From the Publisher
“Brilliant discourse on a fascinating subject. It's written in a crisp, fluent, Gladwellish way and the pages flit by.”—Management Today

“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.” —Publishers Weekly

“No one has taught me more about the complexities and mysteries of human decision-making than Gary Klein.” —Malcolm Gladwell

"Intriguing findings that should play a transformative role, not only in the field of psychology, but also in corporate boardrooms."—Kirkus Reviews

"A valuable resource for business professionals to return to over again.”—Library Journal

“Written in a breezy yet informative conversational style, Seeing What Others Don’t is a good read and helps to stimulate our own thinking about how insights occur.”—Strategy & Leadership

“Gary Klein pins down what until now has been the elusive topic of insight in his best and most personal work yet. The examples are memorable and Klein translates them into subtle and powerful lessons for practitioners and academics alike.” —Karl Weick, Rensis Likert Distinguished University Professor, Emeritus, University of Michigan

“Gary Klein’s brilliant book is a superb analysis of why and how some people are able to understand things others do not. As one of Gary’s students and disciples I can attest to the exceptional value his insights have added to my own leadership and decision making ability. This new book is a must read for all leaders and should be added to his other works as the definitive collection on how decisions are, and should be, made.” —General Anthony C. Zinni USMC (Retired)

“Gary Klein has done it again in this brilliant and ‘insightful’ book about how our minds work and how we make sense out what is in front of us. Seeing What Others Don't is remarkable on many fronts, most notably in being a pleasure to read, easy to grasp and filled with practical advice. It is a must read for parents, executives, coaches, teachers, healthcare providers, military tacticians, security and intelligence agents and those in dangerous and stressful positions. Read, learn, perform and enjoy.” —Eduardo Salas, Ph.D., president of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

Library Journal
Experimental cognitive psychologist Klein (Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions) takes his experience in academia, the military, and private industry and offers seminars on improving employee performance, defining improvement as a combination of fewer mistakes and more insightful decisions. Here he examines stories of unusual discoveries and develops a model of "discovery triggers"—the actions innovators took as a result of their insight and the changes in understanding that they produced. He likewise investigates personal insight failures through "insight twin" stories, in which another person was presented with similar information but failed to reach the same conclusion. Decision support systems and organizational failures also come under fire for stifling creative thought and putting too much emphasis on reducing mistakes. Final chapters recommend changes to personal and organizational behavior to benefit all readers. VERDICT A valuable resource for business professionals to return to over again. For all collections.—Heidi Senior, Univ. of Portland Libs., OR

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610392518
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
06/25/2013
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Gary Klein, Ph.D., a senior scientist at MacroCognition LLC, was instrumental in founding the field of naturalistic decision making. Dr. Klein received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969. He is the author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions, The Power of Intuition, Working Minds, and Streetlights and Shadows.

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