Friday, February 2, 2007

Thin Slicing - what makes certain people highly effective

In Malcom Gladwell's book blink - the concept of 'thin slicing' is introduced - this is where people react (or act) based on minimal information - aka instinct. He present numerous instances of this type of behavior and how very effective people have very effective instincts. I don't think this is a new concept, but it is presented in a clear enough way that even I understood the implications. What's makes one person more effective in their position then another? Why is it that one person can be 10 times more effective then another - even when both have the same background, training, etc??? Perhaps it's this idea of thin slicing. Let's look at programming, a problem (aka requirement) is presented - programmer A provides a high quality solution in 1 hour and programming B provides a standard so-so solution in two days - why? Both had the same time, information, experience, etc....perhaps programmer A has the advantage of being able to instinctively better understand the problem and solution instantly - programmer A was able to visualize both and therefore all that had to be done was 'code to the vision'....where programmer B needed to take the traditional approach of reading, defining, trial and error, etc.....

If this is what the difference has been between GOOD and average programmers, then our approach of hiring, training, etc. needs to change - right? Perhaps we hire the person with better instincts for the job instead of the length of prior employment, direct experience, etc? Can you simple test this via on site tests? giving the candidate a test in what they will be doing and seeing how they 'instinctively' approach it? How do you train to make someone more instinctive? can that be done?

Here's some interesting info on INSTINCT from WikiPedia:

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