Posts Tagged ‘theory’

A Whole New Mind – Dan Pink

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Amazon Listing: A Whole New Mind

This is a fun yet profound read that you can easily finish on a cross-country flight and that you will probably not forget. It will deeply interest most people faced with challenges in leading a growing organization. The author’s main premise is that the forces of “automation, abundance, and asia” have combined to make speed to market, efficient production, and technical prowess mere table stakes in a global marketplace.  Left brain prowess is not enough – you need to also sharpen your right brain.

He asserts that just as our societies and economies moved from agriculture to industrial to information ages, we are now poised on the next transition – to the conceptual age.  In the past 50 years or so, he explains how our schools and workplaces honed and rewarded those with strong analytic skills and those adept at creating and manipulating functional technologies.  Mr. Pink shows us how these are no longer enough and that there are six “senses” that need to be honed to win in a more complex and global environment: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning.  If you doubt this, witness the ridiculous success of the ipod and iphone.  Fortunately, he gives us more than theory; he tells stories about each of these six topics, provides exercises, and suggests additional reading to help us hone them.

Dan Pink is a best-selling author [Free Agent Nation, 2001] and was a chief speechwriter for former vice-president Al Gore.

(c) 2008 BlueSeven Partners LLC

The Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Amazon Listing: The Black Swan

For hundreds of years, the commonly held truth in Europe was that all swans are white. All the evidence “proved” this. Then one day a European explorer in Australia discovered a black swan. The theory of white swan exclusivity died suddenly. The black swan metaphor serves as the label for a series of examples in which absence of evidence is confused with evidence of absence in this intriguing book. A Black Swan is defined as an unlikely event with three parts: it is unpredictable, it has significant impact, and when we look back at the event, we perceive an obvious explanation that makes it appear predictable when in fact it wasn’t. The author asserts that Google’s sudden economic prowess was a Black Swan and that 9/11 was a Black Swan. He makes a compelling argument in this book that Black Swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

According to Taleb, we not only miss the forest for the trees, we tend to see the grass and miss the trees as well. We concentrate on variations of things we already know and fail to consider what we don’t know. As a result, we are unable to estimate very well. Fortunately, the author doesn’t just pose the challenge. He does offer some simple techniques for turning black swans into grey swans and then benefiting from them.

The Author
Nassim Nicholas Taleb was a successful quant-trader working on Wall Street. He is a highly educated man and was until recently Professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is a polymath with a strong grasp of history and mathematics, and most importantly in a book like this, a sense of humor.