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To Be a Better Leader, Ask Better Questions
May 9, 2019 | WSJ | By Hal Gregersen. Dr. Gregersen is executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and author of “Questions Are the Answer.”

1. Understand what kinds of questions spark creative thinking. The best questions really knock down barriers to creative thinking and channel energy down new, more productive pathways. A question that does has five traits. It reframes the problem. It intrigues the imagination. It invites others’ thinking. It opens up space for different answers. And it’s nonaggressive—not posed to embarrass, humiliate or assert power over the other party. Ask employees: “What are you wrestling with and how can I help?” Ask customers and supply-chain partners: “If you were in my shoes, what would you be doing differently than what you see us doing today?”
2. Create the habit of asking questions. in the early stages of building your questioning capacity, it’s helpful to start by copying other people’s questions. It’s the equivalent of practicing your scales. Once you’ve got the scales down, you can start to improvise..... management thinker Peter Drucker, liked to jump-start strategic thinking by asking: “What changes have recently happened that don’t fit ‘what everyone knows’ ”?

Another example: A leader in a consumer packaged-goods company constantly asks: “What more can we do to delight the customer at the point of purchase? And what more to delight them at the point of consumption?”......builds the habit of thinking in questions, which, in turn, leads to daily inquiry about matters large and small, and an organization that keeps pushing its competitive advantages forward.
3. Fuel that habit by making yourself generate new questions...... generate new and better questions, not to cap your questioning career at the level of playing flawless scales.
4. Respond with the power of the pause. When someone comes to you with a problem, don’t immediately respond with an answer. ........Instead, make it your habit to respond with a question—ideally one that reframes the problem, but at least one that draws out more of your colleague’s thoughts on the matter. ....not talking about the cop-out rejoinder of, “Well, what do YOU think we should do?” Help the person think through how the decision should be made, with questions like: “What are we optimizing for?” “What’s the most important thing we have to achieve with whatever direction we take?” Or: “What makes this decision so hard? What problem felt like this in the past?” You'll be teaching your colleagues the value of pausing to get the question right before rushing to the answer. And nine times out of 10, you’re going to wind up with a better answer than the one you would have blurted out with less deliberation.
5. Brainstorm for questions. Whenever you/ your team finds itself at an impasse, or there is a sense that some insight is eluding you regarding a problem or opportunity, just stop and spend four minutes generating nothing but questions about it--question bursts. Don’t spend a second answering the questions, or explaining why you posed a certain one. As in brainstorming, go for high volume and do no editing in progress. See if you can generate at least 15-20.
6. Reward your questioners. Bosses should reconceive what their primary job is. They aren’t there to come up with today’s best answers, or even just to get their teams to come up with them. Their job is to build their organization’s capacity for constant innovation.
Their enterprise’s future—and their own career trajectory—depends on their resolve to ask better questions.
books  brainstorming  creativity  creative_thinking  follow-up_questions  habits  imagination  innovation  leaders  nonaggressive  organizational_capacity  Peter_Drucker  Philip_Mudd  power_of_the_pause  problem_definition  problem_framing  questions  strategic_thinking 
may 2019 by jerryking
Should You Buy Bitcoin? Ask a Different Question First
JAN. 5, 2018 | The New York Times | By CARL RICHARDS.

Goals >> Process >> Investments

asking if we should all buy Bitcoin is the wrong question, and that we should ask a different one instead. The question we should be asking ourselves is this: Does buying Bitcoin fit into my investment plan?

That is a much more important question and one that we can all answer much more easily. It places the attention on the process of investing correctly and not on the outcome of events that we have no control over.
Bitcoin  investing  personal_finance  questions  Philip_Mudd  problem_framing 
january 2018 by jerryking
A Former CIA Executive’s Advice On How To Make Hard Decisions | The future of business
05.28.15 | Fast Company | BY STEPHANIE VOZZA.
A Former CIA Executive’s Advice On How To Make Hard Decisions
A five-step decision-making process from a man who spent 25 years making life-and-death decisions.
(1) Question
(2) Drivers
(3) Metrics
(4) Data
(5) What's Missing/Blind Spots

1. FIND THE REAL QUESTION
Questions are NOT self-evident, says Mudd. Focusing on better questions up front yields better answers later.
“Good questions are hard to come up with,” he says. Delay data gathering and the conclusions.... think about exactly what it is we want to know..... Start with what you’re trying to accomplish and work your way back, instead of moving forward and making conclusions. The right question provides a decision advantage to the person at the head of the table.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR “DRIVERS”
Break down complex questions into characteristics or “drivers.” This approach gives you a way to manage data.
For example, sort data on Al Qaeda into information baskets that included money, recruits, leadership, communications, training, and access to weapons. When information flows in, rather than adding it to one unmanageable pile, sorting through it periodically, and offering a recitation of what appears to be relevant from the most recent stuff you’ve seen, file each bit into one of your baskets. Limit your drivers to 10.

3. DECIDE ON YOUR METRICS
Identify the metrics you’ll use to measure how the problem and solution are evolving over time.
What are the right metrics?
What are the new information sources and metrics?
Compare your thought process to the training process of an Olympic sprinter who measures success in hundredths of a second. “If we don’t, the analysis we provide will suffer the same fate as a sprinter who thinks he’s great but has never owned a stopwatch: he enters an elite competition, and reality intervenes,” Metrics provide a “mind mirror”–a system for judging your decisions. It provides a foundation for coming back to the table and assessing the process for success.

4. COLLECT THE DATA
Once you’ve built the framework that will help you make the hard decision, it’s time to gather the data. Overcome data overload by plugging data into their driver categories and excising anything that doesn’t fit. “Too much data might provide a false sense of security, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to clearer analytic decision making,”

Avoud intuition. It’s dangerous. Aggressively question the validity of your data. Once you have your data sorted, give yourself a grade that represents your confidence in assessing your question.

5. LOOK FOR WHAT’S MISSING
Complex analysis isn’t easy. Assume that the process is flawed and check for gaps and errors. Three common stumbling blocks are:

Availability bias: The instinct to rely on what you know or what has been most recently in the news.
Halo effect: When you write off the negative characteristics because you’re mesmerized by the positive attributes.
Intuitive versus analytic methodologies: when you go with your gut. Relying on intuition is dangerous.

Mudd says making complex decisions is hard work. “It’s a lot of fun to be an expert who bases their ideas on history and not a lot of fun to be an analyst who must always be assessing potential scenarios,” he says. “Every time you go into a problem, and before you rip into data, ask yourself, ‘Am I sure where I’m heading?’”
asking_the_right_questions  availability_bias  biases  decision_making  false_sense_of_security  gut_feelings  halo_effects  hard_choices  intuition  intelligence_analysts  life-and-death  metrics  Philip_Mudd  problem_definition  organizing_data  problem_framing  sorting  thinking_backwards 
october 2017 by jerryking
Mastering the Art of Problem Solving
When President Bill Clinton chose to intervene in the Somali civil war in 1993, the Battle of Mogadishu resulted in thousands of Somali citizens killed, two American Black Hawk helicopters shot down,…

WHAT ABOUT THE DATA?
Increasing amounts of data can be unmanageable, and the problem of sorting through data overloads may only worsen in this digital era. Rather than looking at each bit of information as a discrete data point, we want to look at our drivers and sort the data according to which driver it supports--on other words, sort the data into each of the half-dozen or so driver categories, so analysts have few piles to deal with rather than a thousand discrete data points.
decision_making  howto  problem_solving  problem_framing  security_&_intelligence  CIA  books  information_overload  analysis  interviews  critical_thinking  book_reviews  Philip_Mudd  frameworks  insights  sorting  analysts  thinking_backwards  problem_definition  intelligence_analysts 
may 2015 by jerryking
Analytic Thinking and Presentation for Intelligence Producers.
The importance of a title
How to gist your reading (actually a very helpful section)
The need for focus and clarity
“If you can’t summarize your bottom line in one sentence, you haven’t done your analysis.”
One idea – One Paragraph
The inverted Pyramid writing style, i.e. begin with the core assumption.
The importance of precise language (no jargon, no abbreviations, allow no possible misunderstandings)
Again, there is nothing earth shattering, but it is an interesting read.
DEVELOPING ANALYTICAL OBJECTIVITY
The part that I found most interesting is the section entitled “Developing Analytical Objectivity.”
In a world filled with talk radio and infotainment, it is an important point to raise awareness about.
We have talked extensively about the cognitive nature of our brains and some of the fallacies and tricks our brains play on us – especially in the political arena.
This warning given to some of our country’s brightest thinkers acts as a reminder that if the smartest person in the room must protect against biases, so must we.
focus  clarity  strategic_thinking  critical_thinking  security_&_intelligence  writing  presentations  howto  sense-making  objectivity  biases  Philip_Mudd  analysts  misunderstandings  intelligence_analysts 
october 2012 by jerryking
Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It)
Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.

The point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it. Here are 10 strategies to see problems from many different perspectives and to master the most important step in problem solving: clearly defining the problem in the first place!
The Problem Is To Know What the Problem Is

The definition of the problem will be the focal point of all your problem-solving efforts.
1. Rephrase the Problem
2. Expose and Challenge Assumptions
3. Chunk Up
4. Chunk Down. From Engineering school--break a problem into its component sub-systems, solve at that level, and then combine mini solutions.
5. Find Multiple Perspectives
6. Use Effective Language Constructs
7. Make It Engaging
8. Reverse the Problem
9. Gather Facts
10. Problem-Solve Your Problem Statement
Albert_Einstein  creativity  critical_thinking  engineering  lifehacks  Philip_Mudd  problems  problem_definition  problem_framing  problem_solving  thinking  thinking_backwards  tips  uncharted_problems 
january 2012 by jerryking
Michael Lewis’s ‘The Big Short’? Read the Harvard Thesis Instead! - Deal Journal - WSJ
March 15, 2010 | WSJ | By Peter Lattman.

Back at Harvard, against the backdrop of the financial system’s near-total collapse, Barnett-Hart approached professors with an idea of writing a thesis about CDOs and their role in the crisis. “Everyone discouraged me because they said I’d never be able to find the data,” she said. “I was urged to do something more narrow, more focused, more knowable. That made me more determined.”

She emailed scores of Harvard alumni. One pointed her toward LehmanLive, a comprehensive database on CDOs. She received scores of other data leads. She began putting together charts and visuals, holding off on analysis until she began to see patterns–how Merrill Lynch and Citigroup were the top originators, how collateral became heavily concentrated in subprime mortgages and other CDOs, how the credit ratings procedures were flawed, etc.

“If you just randomly start regressing everything, you can end up doing an unlimited amount of regressions,” she said, rolling her eyes. She says nearly all the work was in the research; once completed, she jammed out the paper in a couple of weeks.
financial_system  Michael_Lewis  economics  Harvard  Colleges_&_Universities  students  thesis  CDOs  data  patterns  Wall_Street  investment_banking  women  Philip_Mudd  economic_downturn  linear_regression  finance  crisis 
march 2011 by jerryking

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