Commanding Information

“It’s like the weather. A commander does not need to know the barometric pressure or the winds or even the temperature. He needs to know the forecast. If you get too caught up in the production of information, you drown in the data.”

Paul van Riper, in Malcolm Galdwell’s Blink

(If you want to put this quote and the speaker in context, but don’t want to read the book, there’s an article here explaining how in a war game Riper outgunned the best of the US Military Decision making technology at JFCOM.)

  • platocave

    What did you think of Blink? I was struck especially by the triangle taste test example and how it showed that non-experts lack the words to back up their discriminations. To tie into your post below on “thinking outside the box”, words for experts aren’t constraints because they can use them specifically – someone who has thought on thinking for a while could probably use that particular cliche in a meaningful way.

  • Hi platocave,

    Re blink, I half liked it. Loved the examples – taste tests, military command structures, facial gestures et al – but in the end came away feeling it was just that, examples. Suppose I was hoping for something more, but that may have been me rather than Mr Gladwell not delivering (?) …

    Re your taste test, it was amazing wasn’t it? And I like your link to the outside the box thinking! If I understand you, then a flipside of that is that asking people to “think outside the box” is effectively asking them to stop worrying about how expert they sound? (The taste test seemed to indicate that non-experts got “poorer” results when they tried to back up their discriminations with expert words). Which I like, because it seems to imply that you do better by thinking for yourself in your own terms.

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