Malcolm Gladwell – Synchronicity

Topic: Synchronicity – Management Improvement

Today I had lunch with a friend of mine, Sean Stickle [the broken link was removed], who continually provides me with interesting ideas to contemplate. One of the things he mentioned during lunch was a story in the New Yorker about the current college admission process.

On the way home I listened to a podcast. I have been meaning to write about what a nice addition listening to podcasts has been to my commute, but I always seem to have more important things to do (or write about). The podcasts I have listened to so far, while somewhat interesting (for those interested in management improvement) have been heavily focused on those also interested in software development.

Well the podcast today was, “Human Nature,” and discussed the flaws of relying on customer surveys. It reminded me exactly of Deming’s warning against the dangers of relying on surveys. Obviously there are good things to learn from surveying and talking to your customers, but Deming understood that asking customers about what innovations they would like was dangerous. Well that is basically what the speaker talked about. And he gave some excellent detailed examples (New Coke and Aeron Chairs). So again, I thought really should post about the benefit of listening to these podcasts. But I didn’t.

Tonight, I stumbled across a blog post: The Business Model of Business Schools:

A great article by Malcolm Gladwell called the “the social logic of ivy league admissions” [the broken link was removed] in the New Yorker magazine is linked to. This is a must read.

In looking at that article, I realized it was the exact article Sean had mentioned at lunch. I then went to the authors web site and noticed he also wrote The Tipping Point. At which time I realized the podcast I listened to on the way home was by the same guy: Malcolm Gladwell. And I decided it was time to write a post.

The podcast really is worth listening to, Human Nature:

Malcolm explores why we can’t trust people’s opinions — because we don’t have the language to express our feelings. His examples include the story of New Coke and how Coke’s market research misled them, and the development of Herman-Miller’s Aeron chair, the best-selling chair in the history of office chairs, which succeeded in spite of research that suggested it would fail.

IT Conversations has excellent podcasts by leading thinkers including Jeff Bezos, Paul Graham and Clayton Christensen (Sean also introduced me into Graham and Christensen).

I’ll try to post something more on podcasts and good sources for those interested in management improvement but there is also tons of information online for those who don’t want to wait for me to get around to posting. I figure those reading this blog, might, like me, be a bit behind the leading gadget users. Many might actually own iPods. But I figure many may not have taken the time to discover that they can not only listen to great music, but also listen to great thinkers present their ideas using mp3 players.

Malcolm Gladwell’s new book is Blink.

2 thoughts on “Malcolm Gladwell – Synchronicity

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