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This week we re-read Chapter 7 of Thinking, Fast and Slow,  A Machine for Jumping to Conclusions.  Logistics note: every time I think I can get to a two chapters a week cadence with this book, I find that hit a chapter that I really think is full of ideas that will be useful for thinking about how people behave and how change can be facilitated and feel that I need to spend more time with it. Maybe next week!   (more…)

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Chapter 6, Norms, Surprises, and Causes, continues the deep dive into System 1 thinking. As noted before, System 1 thinking continually is active nearly all of the time making snap decisions based on associated that it has constructed. In Chapter 6 Kahneman asserts that the main role of system one “is to maintain and update a model of your personal world, which represents what is normal in it.” The Associative Machine (Chapter 5) defines one mechanism the brain uses to construct a model of the world around us.   (more…)

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The core of Chapter 5 is the exploration of the impact of cognitive load on Systems 1 and 2 thinking. Kahneman uses the metaphor of a dial to indicate that the brain continually monitors the level of cognitive strain on the brain.  The scale runs from little cognitive strain to lots of cognitive strain. The amount of cognitive strain is affected by what is going on right now AND any queued up requirements and questions. Perhaps this is why my to-do list nags me.  The more strain, the higher the load, the more focused you are (System 2 thinking). Cognitive load reduces the brain’s ability to leverage intuition and creativity. (more…)

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I was going to try to pick up the pace this week and re-read two chapters, but instead, I am probably recovering from a root canal as you are reading this week’s entry of Re-read Saturday. I shattered a molar just before I began teaching a half-day workshop on value chains, value streams, and process maps, but the show had to go on.  Despite the pain, it was a good class (if you are interested in bringing the workshop to your organization. . . tcagley@tomcagley.com). This week we are re-reading Chapter 4 of Thinking, Fast and Slow, The Associative Machine.  This chapter begins a deeper dive into the nuances of system 1 thinking. (more…)

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This week we re-read Chapter 3 of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. One of the core themes in this chapter is the concept of ego depletion.  Ego depletion is a theory that self-control, as a form of system 2 thinking, draws from a finite pool of mental resources. When the pool is low, so is self-control. I did some research on the topic and the evidence is mixed whether there is an ego depletion impact. Regardless, from the point of view of Chapter 3 the idea is that heavy mental and physical loads on a person spread their ability to think and make decisions thin is not a stretch (and we should not expend a significant cognitive load on the topic). Whether the triggering mechanism is ego depletion or something else is not as important as the observable impact – when people are under mental stress they don’t always make the most thoughtful decisions.    (more…)

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Today we continue the re-read of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. This week we tackle chapter 1. The core of chapter 1 is the definition of fast and slow thinking. This is also known as system 1 and 2 thinking.  These are the characters in Kahneman’s book. Fast or system 1 thinking operates automatically.  This type of thinking is quick with little or no effort or sense of voluntary control. For example, when the stop light changes to red, you step on the brakes.  Kahneman uses the reaction to a picture of a woman as an example, when we look at her picture we immediately read her face and react.  Slow or system 2 thinking is executed as a procedure, a sequence of steps.  System 2 thinking requires the allocation of attention to the activities. System 2 thinking is required when complex computations are needed. This type of thinking requires voluntary control – the thinker must consciously execute this type of thinking. An example used in the book to illustrate slow thinking is a multiplication problem.  In a software development team using Scrum for more than a few days, attending a daily scrum is system 1 thinking while deciding how to demonstrate a completed story requires system 2 thinking. (more…)

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Today we begin the re-read of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  Not counting the endnotes, my copy has 448 pages and is comprised of an introduction, 39 chapters in five parts, and two appendices — if this were a blog the book would be approximately 41 separate entries, which is my current approach to the re-read (plus one week for a recap).  The chapters are, on average, relatively short, however, I am reticent to suggest out of the box that I will combine chapters during this re-read. Therefore, I am planning that this re-read to take 42 weeks. Kahneman’s writing, while engaging, is FULL over ideas that are useful for anyone that thinks of him or herself as a leader and change agent. As I noted last week, I will need your help calling out the parts of the book that resonates with you. If you do not have a favorite, dog-eared copy please buy a copy.  Use the links in this blog to books help to support the blog and its alter-ego, The Software Process and Measurement Cast. Buy a copy on Amazon. Now it is time to get reading!   (more…)