A simple logic question

December 31, 2012

Via Scoopinon   Article

A simple logic question that most Harvard students get wrong

HARVARD STUDENTS GET near-perfect SAT scores (US college admission tests). These are smart, smart kids. So they shouldn’t have trouble with a simple logic question, right?

Try the following puzzle:

A bat and ball cost $1.10. The bat costs one dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?



Behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman explains why most people get this wrong:

A number came to your mind. The number, of course, is 10: 10¢. The distinctive mark of this easy puzzle is that it evokes an answer that is intuitive, appealing, and wrong. Do the math, and you will see. If the ball costs 10 ¢, then the total cost will be $1.20 (10¢ for the ball and $1.10 for the bat), not $1.10. The correct answer is 5¢. It is safe to assume that the intuitive answer also came to the mind of those who ended up with the correct number—they somehow managed to resist the intuition.

… This excerpt comes from Kahneman’s 2011 book, Thinking, Fast And Slow, which posits that we have an intuitive mental system and a logical mental system, and we often use the wrong one at the wrong time.”

– Gus Lubin

Studying Economics

December 31, 2012

“The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.”

— Joan Violet Robinson


The #1 Career Mistake

December 31, 2012

By Greg McKeown via Linked in   Article

The #1 Career Mistake Capable People Make


“The slightly painful truth is, at any one time there is only one piece of real estate we can “own” in another person’s mind. People can’t think of us as a project manager, professor, attorney, insurance agent, editor and entrepreneur all at exactly the same time. They may all be true about us but people can only think of us as one thing first. At any one time there is only one phrase that can follow our name. …

Being able to do many things is important in many jobs today. Broad understanding also is a must. But developing greater discernment about what is distinctive about us can be a great advantage. Instead of simply doing more things we need to find, at every phase in our careers, our highest point of contribution.”

“7 times 7 is 48”

December 31, 2012

By Michael McKinney via Leading Blog   Article

The Success Equation: Separating Luck and Skill

“In the mid-1970s, a man hunted for a lottery ticket with the last two digits ending in 48 for a chance to win the Spanish National Lottery. He found a ticket, bought it, and won the lottery. When asked why he was so intent on finding that number, he replied, “I dreamed of the number 7 for seven straight nights. And 7 times 7 is 48.”

You can be wrong and still win—in the short term. …

In the left hemisphere of our brain is what Steven Pinker calls the “baloney-generator.” “One of the left hemisphere’s main jobs,” writes Mauboussin, “is to make sense of the world by finding a cause for every effect, even if the cause is nonsensical.” Consequently, we attribute too much to skill especially in hindsight. “‘Once something has occurred and we can put together a story to explain it, it starts to seem like the outcome was predestined.” …

Building Skill and Improving Your Luck

Whether or not you can improve your skill depends a great deal on where your activity lies on the luck-skill continuum, says Mauboussin. “In cases where there is a clear relationship between cause and effect, and in activities that are stable and linear, deliberate practice is the only path to improvement. … For activities near the luck side of the continuum, a good process is the surest path to success in the long run.”


When your job is dull

December 31, 2012

By Morten Hansen and Dacher Keltner via HBR Blog Network   Finding Meaning at Work

Finding Meaning at Work, Even When Your Job Is Dull

“The phrase “meaning at work” refers to a person’s experience of something meaningful — something of value — that work provides. That is not the same as “meaningful work,” which refers to the task itself. Work is a social arena that provides other kinds of meaningful experiences as well. …

1. Contributions beyond yourself. The people at Kiva, a non-profit, channel micro-loans to poor people … Their work clearly has a greater purpose …. The problem is, however, that most work doesn’t have such a higher purpose …

2. Learning. Many MBA graduates flock to McKinsey, BCG and other consultancies so that they can rapidly acquire valuable skills. General Electric is renowned for developing general managers; and people who want to become marketers crave to learn that trade at Proctor & Gamble. …

6. Belonging to a community. Companies like Southwest Airlines go out of their way to create a company atmosphere where people feel they belong…. people crave a place where they can forge friendships and experience a sense of community.

8. Autonomy. … autonomy is a great intrinsic motivator. Some people are drawn to certain kinds of work that provides a great deal of autonomy — the absence of others who tell you what to do, and the freedom to do your own work and master your task.”

“change-in-the-wrong direction”

December 31, 2012

By Rosabeth Moss Kanter via HBR Blog Network   Article

Nine Symptoms of Corporate Decline

“… nine universal warning signs of change-in-the-wrong direction …

Communication decreases. … Decisions are made in secret. People mistrust official statements. Gossip substitutes for the full facts.

Criticism and blame increase. People are dressed down in public. They make excuses for themselves and point their fingers at someone else. …

Respect decreases. … Everyone expects the worst of everyone else — and says so.

Isolation increases. People retreat into their own corners or subgroups, suspicious of others and unwilling to engage with them. … Silos harden.

Focus turns inward. People become self-absorbed and lose sight of the wider context — customers, constituencies, markets, or the world. …

Rifts widen and inequities grow. … Power differentials and social distance between groups and levels make collaboration difficult. …

Aspirations diminish. People … are willing to settle for mediocrity. They want to minimize risk rather than to look for big improvements. …

Initiative decreases. … people go passive, following routines but not taking initiative even on small things …

… Here’s what leaders — official or emergent — do to shift a culture from the behaviors of decline to the habits of success: ….”

December 24, 2012

Jeff Luftig holiday greeting