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jerryking : incisiveness   10

Getting smarter, knowing less
March 16, 2018 | FT | by Robert Armstrong.

The point is that for me, and perhaps most people, the main barrier to being smart is not what we do not know. It is the masses of things we know and mistakenly believe to be relevant.

My wife and I have been thinking about the next stage of our kids’ education. Being central-casting middle-class professional types, we hired an educational consultant to talk us through a range of state schools. She provided briefings about each school, crammed with facts about test scores, teacher turnover, class sizes, and so on.

Feeling slightly dizzy, I asked which bits I should pay attention to. She responded — with glorious honesty for someone being paid by the hour — that there was only one piece of information that really mattered: how many students are late or absent on a regular basis. If a school is the kind of place where almost everybody shows up and shows up on time, then it is the kind of place where kids and teachers can achieve a lot together. The rest is noise.

That comment made me smarter, not because it was a surprising revelation but because it allowed me to clear a lot of junk out of my head — and avoid putting a lot more junk into it. What we all need is the cognitive equivalent of decluttering guru Marie Kondo, who can help us to go into our own heads and throw out all the beliefs that have outlived their usefulness.
decluttering  problem_framing  signals  noise  information_overload  questions  smart_people  incisiveness  education  schools  pretense_of_knowledge  pay_attention  what_really_matters  work_smarter 
march 2018 by jerryking
How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art: David Salle: 9780393248135: Amazon.com: Books
How does art work? How does it move us, inform us, challenge us? Internationally renowned painter David Salle’s incisive essay collection illuminates the work of many of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Engaging with a wide range of Salle’s friends and contemporaries—from painters to conceptual artists such as Jeff Koons, John Baldessari, Roy Lichtenstein, and Alex Katz, among others—How to See explores not only the multilayered personalities of the artists themselves but also the distinctive character of their oeuvres.
books  art  Amazon  perception  empathy  inferences  Communicating_&_Connecting  observations  incisiveness 
december 2016 by jerryking
The Power of ‘Why?’ and ‘What If?’ - The New York Times
JULY 2, 2016 | New York Times | By WARREN BERGER.

business leaders want the people working around them to be more curious, more cognizant of what they don’t know, and more inquisitive — about everything, including “Why am I doing my job the way I do it?” and “How might our company find new opportunities?”....Companies in many industries today must contend with rapid change and rising uncertainty. In such conditions, even a well-established company cannot rest on its expertise; there is pressure to keep learning what’s new and anticipating what’s next. It’s hard to do any of that without asking questions.

Steve Quatrano, a member of the Right Question Institute, a nonprofit research group, explains that the act of formulating questions enables us “to organize our thinking around what we don’t know.” This makes questioning a good skill to hone in dynamic times.....So how can companies encourage people to ask more questions? There are simple ways to train people to become more comfortable and proficient at it. For example, question formulation exercises can be used as a substitute for conventional brainstorming sessions. The idea is to put a problem or challenge in front of a group of people and instead of asking for ideas, instruct participants to generate as many relevant questions as they can.......Getting employees to ask more questions is the easy part; getting management to respond well to those questions can be harder.......think of “what if” and “how might we” questions about the company’s goals and plans........Leaders can also encourage companywide questioning by being more curious and inquisitive themselves.
5_W’s  asking_the_right_questions  questions  curiosity  humility  pretense_of_knowledge  unknowns  leadership  innovation  idea_generation  ideas  information_gaps  cost_of_inaction  expertise  anticipating  brainstorming  dynamic  change  uncertainty  rapid_change  inquisitiveness  Dr.Alexander's_Question  incisiveness  leaders  companywide 
july 2016 by jerryking
Small words make a big difference: how to ask incisive usability questions for richer results | Loop11
abbreviated “ASK” – which helps me to focus on crafting constructive questions. Here it is:

A. Avoid starting with words like “Are”, “Do”, and “Have”. Questions that start with these type of verbs are a surefire way to nip insights in the bud. It can lead to what’s called a closed question, i.e. something that can literally close a conversation with a “Yes” or “No” answer. While it may be useful to gather this sort of data at times, try instead to open it up. Using open questions, as Changing Minds notes, gives us time to think, reflect, and provide opinions.
S. Start with W. The 5 W’s – i.e. who, what, when, where, and why – are the building blocks for information-gathering. It’s a tool from rhetoric, historically attributed to the Greeks and Romans. Essentially, the 5 W’s help us pull out the particulars. The magic behind them is that none of them can be answered with just a “yes” or “no”, so we’re always going to get a bit more of an expressive answer from subjects.
K. Keep it short. As researchers, we can often let curiosity get the best of us. Excited, we may list out a string of questions, asking more than necessary. By asking more than one question at a time, we ruin the focus of a conversation. We should try to keep our questions short and sweet, so that they may be digested more appropriately.
5_W’s  asking_the_right_questions  brevity  concision  conversations  focus  Greek  howto  incisiveness  insights  open-ended  questions  rhetoric  Romans  small_moves 
december 2014 by jerryking
Staying Focused
December 2013 | Harvard Business Review | by Adi Ignatius.

In “The Focused Leader” Daniel Goleman posits that a primary task for leaders is to “direct attention” toward what matters—so it’s imperative that they stay focused themselves. Building on neuroscience research, he argues that “focus” isn’t about filtering out distractions as much as it is about cultivating awareness of what truly matters. The executive’s goal should be to develop three things: an inward focus, a focus on others, and a focus on the wider world. The first two help to build emotional intelligence, while the third can help in devising strategy, innovating, and managing.
attention  distractions  editorials  emotional_intelligence  filtering  focus  HBR  incisiveness  inward-looking  leaders  people_skills  self-awareness  serving_others  strategy  the_big_picture  think_threes  what_really_matters 
december 2013 by jerryking
What the Silence Said - WSJ.com
December 12, 2003 | WSJ | By DANIEL HENNINGER. A tribute to Bob Bartley.

In a December 2000 column about the Bush cabinet (titled, "Think Big"), Bob said this about the attorney-general slot: "The Occam's Razor answer is Jim Baker, just displaying legal generalship in Florida."

If you understand Occam's Razor, you understand the entire Bartley persona. I think Bob put this phrase in print about five times in his career, never of course bothering to explain its origins with the 14th-century English philosopher William of Occam, who posited the principle that the best and sturdiest solution to a problem is often the least complicated. Bob believed mightily in this idea. He thrilled, for instance, at James Carville's summation of the 1992 election: "It's the economy, stupid." Pure Occam's Razor.

Thus: To incentivize an economy you can either rejigger the entire tax code -- or reduce marginal tax rates. To keep prices stable, you can either swim through swamps of economic indicators -- or use a price rule, such as the gold standard. To find out what a nation wants, "hold an election." I think Bob saw Ronald Reagan, more than anything, as an Occam's Razor President ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"). The day Bob heard that Jimmy Carter was scheduling the White House tennis court, he knew it was hopeless.

At the Journal editorial page, if you watched Bob Bartley work through the day's events -- in the news, in ideas, in life -- you learned to focus on the core of an issue, the fulcrum. The taciturnity wasn't an eccentric quirk; it was Bob's adamant, lifelong refusal to allow an issue or idea to be defeated by secondary or irrelevant detail. He defeated the irrelevancies by refusing to legitimize them with talk. Bob Bartley was in the game to move events, to move history. He knew how to do that, and in the 36 years he ran this page's editorials, he taught the rest of us how to do it: Think big. We did, and we will.
Daniel_Henninger  taciturn  tributes  wsj  Occam's_Razor  game_changers  James_A._Baker_III  thinking_big  problem_solving  incisiveness  high-impact  tax_codes 
august 2012 by jerryking
Be Data Literate -- Know What to Know - WSJ.com
November 15, 2005 | WSJ |By PETER F. DRUCKER. (This article originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal on Dec. 3, 1992).

Few executives yet know how to ask: What information do I need to do my job? When do I need it? In what form? And from whom should I be getting it? Fewer still ask: What new tasks can I tackle now that I get all these data? Which old tasks should I abandon? Which tasks should I do differently? Practically no one asks: What information do I owe? To whom? When? In what form?...A "database," no matter how copious, is not information. It is information's ore. For raw material to become information, it must be organized for a task, directed toward specific performance, applied to a decision. Raw material cannot do that itself. Nor can information specialists. They can cajole their customers, the data users. They can advise, demonstrate, teach. But they can no more manage data for users than a personnel department can take over the management of the people who work with an executive.

Information specialists are toolmakers. The data users, whether executive or professional, have to decide what information to use, what to use it for and how to use it. They have to make themselves information-literate. This is the first challenge facing information users now that executives have become computer-literate.

But the organization also has to become information-literate. It also needs to learn to ask: What information do we need in this company? When do we need it? In what form? And where do we get it?
CFOs  CIOs  critical_thinking  data  databases  data_driven  decision_making  digital_savvy  incisiveness  information-literate  information-savvy  insights  interpretative  managerial_preferences  metacognition  organizing_data  Peter_Drucker  questions 
may 2012 by jerryking
In a Data-Heavy Society, Being Defined by the Numbers - NYTimes.com
By ALINA TUGEND
Published: April 22, 2011
“Numbers make intangibles tangible,” said Jonah Lehrer, a journalist and
author of “How We Decide,” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). “They
give the illusion of control.”[stories, anecdotes, and ratios make numbers memorable. See also Pinboard article, "To Persuade People, Tell Them a Story"]

Too many people shopping for cars, for example, get fixated on how much
horsepower the engine has, even though in most cases it really doesn’t
matter, Mr. Lehrer said.

“We want to quantify everything,” he went on, “to ground a decision in
fact, instead of asking whether that variable matters.” [jck: that is, which variables are incisive, worth paying attention to, act as signal in a sea of noise?]
obsessions  rankings  data_driven  metrics  statistics  analysis  incisiveness  quantitative  Jonah_Lehrer  dangers  intangibles  meaning  sense-making  data  illusions  false_confidence  anecdotal  books  sense_of_control  storytelling  decision_making  overquantification 
april 2011 by jerryking
Why Can't M.B.A. Students Write? - WSJ.com
MARCH 3, 2011 By DIANA MIDDLETON. Students Struggle for Words
Business Schools Put More Emphasis on Writing Amid Employer Complaints
One of the shortest writing assignments at Northeastern is one of the
most frequently bungled. For the Marketing and Customer Value class
students must write, in fewer than 150 words, a compelling email
convincing executives to implement a marketing and pricing strategy.

Students rarely get to the point, says Bruce Clark, writing coordinator
for the M.B.A. program. "The first sentence should begin with, 'The
single most important issue here is.' You'd be amazed how few students
do that," he says.
brevity  business_schools  Communicating_&_Connecting  concision  curriculum  incisiveness  linchpins  MBAs  writing  the_single_most_important 
march 2011 by jerryking
globeandmail.com - Is the answer to business success a never-ending question?
Feb. 25, 2008 G&M column by Harvey Schachter. Take an organized approach to developing thought-provoking questions.

Identifying

The source for questions already exist around us, in books, white papers, journals, brochures, competitive intelligence, market research and technical documents. Consider the various outside experts, industry leaders, competitors, suppliers, customers, and even family members who already ask questions about your workplace. "With a little imagination, the sources for questions are nearly endless," she says.

Collecting

Send an e-mail to 30 people asking "what questions should be asked before taking on a new project?" A helpful question to start that process is: "What are all the questions that people might answer in order to address the company's goals, challenges or problems?" Collect questions in advance of decision-making meetings to help plan each session better and make it more effective.

Organizing

Look for patterns that will indicate the categories that the questions can be stored in, for appropriate retrieval when needed. Sometimes the topic might have an industry standard categorization already.

Refining

Although it's common to begin brainstorming with "there's no such thing as a bad question," not all questions are good ones. So keep refining your questions to make sure they are open-ended, not easy to answer, and provocative.

Follow Kipling

Rudyard Kipling : What and Why and When and How and Where and Who." A good QuestionBank contains a mix of those question types. Two of the most provocative questions you can ask are: "What or how might people change or improve ____ to ____?" and "What new or different ideas might change or improve _____?"

Ownership

Make sure somebody is accountable for each QuestionBank, ensuring periodic improvements and maintenance. That person should be in a position of responsibility in the organization.
Harvey_Schachter  career  creativity  innovation  questions  Rudyard_Kipling  pattern_recognition  open-ended  insights  Dr.Alexander's_Question  incisiveness  inquisitiveness  5_W’s  prospecting 
january 2009 by jerryking

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