Category Archives: Synopsis

Blink: Malcolm Gladwell

Blink is another interesting book from Gladwell.  In its pages he looks at the phenomenon of intuition and arrives at an interesting conclusion.

Intuition is not some psychic talent that arises from the depths of our mind.

It is the result of long hours of repetition and complete immersion in an environment, skill of behaviour that is constrained by particular rules and principles.

Harnessing the power of intuition can give you a distinct advantage in a world where flexibility is essential.  After reading this book, you’ll never think about thinking in the same way again.

The key points from the book include:

  • Knowing something in a split second is one of the most powerful skills we have.
  • A snap judgement can often prove more effective than a considered decision.
  • By focusing on narrow slices of experience we can read complex systems in the ‘Blink’ of an eye.
  • Thin slicing is Gladwell’s theory that the first 2 seconds of an encounter will determine how you will respond or the likely outcome.
  • For 80% of instances, a snapshot provides all the information that is needed.

Although Gladwell’s argument is well supported with expert experience and examples, the theory seems to only hold true when you are dealing with true experts.

Complete immersion in the environment or experience is essential for results of up to 80% accuracy.

The rest of us are probably less accurate with our intuition, but that doesn’t make it a poor tool, only something that needs to be supported by other evidence and consideration.

Dare to Aspire


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Simply Brilliant: Fergus O’Connell

Simply Brilliant is a simple book presenting simple ideas without being simplistic. It advises the reader to look for simple problems, simple solutions and direct approaches.

The general tenet is for you to be nice to people you work with, and to see problems from their point of view.

The key points from the book are:

–  The best ideas are often the most simple, don’t search for complexity

–  Smart people often fail to demonstrate common sense

O’Connell outlines 7 principles to deal with everyday problems. These are:

1.  Many things are simple despite our need to make them complicated

2.  You need to know what you are trying to do

3.  There is always a sequence of events – join the dots in your mind to see the cause and effect

4.  Things don’t get done if people don’t do them

5.  Things rarely end up how you planned, so plan for the unexpected

6.  Things either are or they are not – Don’t fudge it to meet your expectation

7.  Look at things from the other person’s point of view

O’Connell structures the book as an informal manual. It covers:

–  How to plan

–  How to prioritise

–  How to complete projects

–  How to remember the customer’s needs

He suggests you write the minutes of a meeting in advance to know what you want to get out of it.

He also highlights the difference between the duration of a task and the time is takes to complete it.

Activity isn’t progress.

He outlines why things don’t get done – Confusion, Over-commitment, lack of knowledge or skill.

He also suggests that you plan your time assuming that there will be interruptions

The final point I think is most telling of people in general is that common sense isn’t all that common in reality.

A good little book that highlights the need to keep things simple in a complicated world.

Dare to Aspire

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The Tipping Point: Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point is an excellent book that captures the imagination and presents a new view of why large scale events occur. It contains an analysis of the strategies people apply to influence and create significant change. Well worth reading and considering, perhaps with a view to applying the idea to your busines.

The key concepts from the book include:

  • Little things, changes and events can make a big difference.
  • A tipping point is the moment when an idea, social behaviour or trend crosses a point of no return and spreads in a viral fashion.
  • Epidemics start with a person, evolution begins with a single mutation and products and ideas can explode following minor changes.
  • Big results don’t always require big effort, a lever can make all the difference

The main reasons that something crosses the tipping point are:

  • The Law of the Few – A core number of people can drive a significant change when they are perceived as the correct messenger with the correct message using the most appropriate channel.
  • Stickiness – The message has to be worth taking action on
  • The Power of Context – Tipping points are subtle, highly dependent on time, place and circumstances.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask when considering how to apply this idea:

  • What message can you create that is sticky?
  • Who can spread this message for you?
  • How should they spread it?
  • Why is it worthy of being spread?
  • What is the best time, place and circumstance to start?

These questions clearly have a marketing flavour but the concept is transferrable to many areas including ideas, politics and even social events.

Flash mobs serve no obvious purpose but typify the idea of a tipping point.

A Mexican wave is another example.

How can you reach a tipping point?

Dare to Aspire

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