I’ve been reading a fascinating book by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman. It’s one of those that would generate a blog full of thoughts every page.

At one level it’s stuff I’ve heard before, but in another level of depth, with better scientific evidence, with better examples and added meaning.

Fundamentally it explores how our 2 brains work together – or not…. The ancient brain, the amygdala which is responsible for subconscious reaction, emotion and works so fast and in such ways that our more modern brain, the frontal cortex where we consciously think, doesn’t always recognise what happened.

One of the key themes is about how we, as humans, are unknowingly biased or unable to spot systematic errors in the way we think or analyse. And even when trained, cannot stop or cut out these problems.

There are no answers, the book is about awareness. Awareness of the way we make decisions.

It touches on so many aspects of change, experience and people. From subliminal marketing to creating change. Communicating to feeling.

Here are a just a couple of points:

a) Our conscious brains are naturally lazy. They won’t waste effort. If they can jump to conclusions with no data, they will. Faced with hard questions, they will subconsciously substitute easier questions and answer those instead, believing the answers still apply. Faced with hard sums or statistics, they will seek simplifications, right or wrong. Primed by a questioner, they are easily influenced in the answers they give. Asked to remember, they will be affected by context and connections. Faced with change, they will look to make the changes fit in their picture of the world or if easier reject the ideas.

b) Our subconscious brains are very good at certain things and those things can’t be stopped. They spot the unexpected. They prime and use the body endlessly. They pick up and analyse massive amounts of data in milliseconds – the character in a face, the catch of a ball. Optical illusions are still illusions even when you’ve seen them before. They create the intuition & reactions that you cannot stop.

There’s a lot of fascinating stuff on how we handle data and statistics (badly). Given so much of business is drowning in data, there are some fab learnings to pick up.

It’s worth reading: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It is not easy reading. It is thoughtful reading. Read it if you can.

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