Faster is not necessarily betterPosted: March 28, 2014
March 28, 2014
An article in the recent Smithsonian magazine talked about speed in thinking. It mentioned a psychology experiment where volunteers had to answer questions that were either typed clearly in a very easy-to-read font or were slightly blurred and therefore harder to read. This study concluded that “people who had to work harder ended up processing the text more deeply and responding to the questions [about the text] more accurately.”
Somewhat related to that was an interview on one of the cable news channels (I do not recall which) to the effect that recent studies show that people being guided by a “gut feeling” or “hunch” were likely to be right about 54% of the time. To put it another way, their odds of being right in such a speedy “analysis” were only slightly higher than what would be expected by sheer random chance. Yet, in such cases, those so guided usually have a very high (and unjustified) level of confidence in their conclusion.
In the ongoing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 search, every day we see the newest “sightings” of wreckage replaced by others, in another area of the sea, rendering prior “knowledge” moot.
So what does this mean for competitive intelligence? It means that the easy research, the easy to do analysis, or the “obvious” conclusion is not necessarily going to get you to the truth. In fact, the harder you have to work to dig out the facts and then to make sense of them, the more likely it is that you will get it right. As the same article said. “When we want a well-reasoned decision, we say think long and hard, which isn’t all that different from think slow.”
 “This month we’re thinking about Speed”, Smithsonian, April 2014, 15-16.