malcolm gladwell : blink

you must read this book. you will know why ‘at the blink of an eye’. no, not because the cover looks persuading and feels good in your hand, but because of malcolm´s photo in his blog: great hair. warm, yet modern colors. a boyish smile. a crazy scientist? einstein junior? a reggae musician? malcolm mclaren?

okay, as “we live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it” (as malcolm gladwell writes), you better imagine me having read all the thousands of articles about (and of course those written by) him and then, after ‘walking over to amazon’, buying ‘the tipping point’ and ‘blink’, reading them, finally starting to write these lines.


one of my core beliefs as a leadership consultant is that we should not primarely be interested in developing good ‘managers’, but focus on good men and women, because i think this is what leadership is all about: great leaders are great men or women. they set an example and act as role models – without thinking about it. they just are. and one realizes that at the blink of an eye.
that is why i am convinced you have to read malcolm´s book. to work towards your own greatness. in leadership and life.

it is, i am sure, all about our ‘n-intuition’ (my abbreviation for ‘we do not believe in intuition’, not malcom´s), our little everyday ignorances, our lack of knowing ourselves, our distrust in our own and our fellows´, colleagues´ and superiors´ feelings and first impressions, and deceiving ourselves and our environment, what makes life more difficult than it really is.

but we can ease our lifes: “our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions – we can change the way we thin-slice – by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions.”


not just future leaders, but everybody, can learn a lot here – not just because everybody´s life is all about ‘managing’ difficult situations and making tough decisions every day.
learn about decision making, eg: “there are, i think, two important lessons here. the first is that truly successful decision making relies on the balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking. … deliberate thinking is a wonderful tool when we have the luxury of time, the help of a computer, and a clearly defined task, and the fruits of that type of analysis can set the stage for rapid cognition. …
the second lesson is that in good decision making, frugality matters. … took a complex problem and reduced it to ist simplest elements: even the most complicated relationships and problems, …, have an identifiable underlying pattern.”

learn about stress and what happens to us, eg: “i think that we become temporarily autistic also in situations when we run out of time.” … “extreme visual clarity, tunnel vision, diminished sound, and the sense that time is slowing down. this is how the human body reacts to extreme stress, and it makes sense.”

learn about experts and amateurs, eg: “when we become expert in something, our tastes grow more esoteric and complex. what i mean is that it is really only experts who are able to reliably account for their reactions.”


malcolm gladwell does not speak about managers, he speaks about leaders, about firefighters, nurses, doctors, musicians, car salesmen and soldiers. and that is why managers can learn a lot there: managers face the same stressful situations, but they do not know, they cannot imagine. they lose context and thereby their sound judgement. they too much try to understand rationally what they are doing, instead of just doing it.
“… the truth is that for the most important decisions, there can be no certainty.”


enjoy the context from where i extracted the quotes and start thinking and changing. embrace change! there is so much to gain. time, insight, empathy, intuition, sense, wisdom.

“i believe – and i hope that by the end of this book you will believe it as well – that the task of making sense of ourselves and our behavior requires that we acknowledge that there can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.” – malcolm gladwell.