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You make bad decisions when too much info is available

Leadership StrategiesEdward KiledjianComment

We live in the information age where almost anything can be researched and learned from the massive information superhighway. But is too much information a bad thing?

Psychology today has an interesting article that claims the more we learn, the harder it becomes to make a decision. Pushing the point just a little more: more information may encourage us to make a worse decision.

The article is worth reading and one paragraph that stood out at me was this:

"The human mind hates uncertainty. Uncertainty implies volatility, randomness, and danger. When we notice information is missing, our brain raises a metaphorical red flag and says, "Pay attention. This could be important."

If information overload leads to bad decisions, then why do we do it? They have a great explanation

Learning is associated with the release of dopamine, the same as powerful drugs like cocaine. It's why we are so vulnerable to an Internet rife with attention parasites that leave us worse for the wear.

They also state that humans tend to over-estimate the value of missing information. Any time we feel info is missing, our subconscious assumes it must be useful. The moral of the story is to consciously decide how much information you really need to make a good decision and stick to your plan.

I wonder if we will ever see people claiming to be "Information Addicts". Do we need to create a 12-step program for information addiction? LOL

Creative Thinking Tip #8 - Be silly and draw something

Leadership StrategiesEdward KiledjianComment

If you haven't read my other articles in the series, read them before continuing: 

TIP #8 BE SILLY AND DRAW SOMETHING

Creativity encourages creativity. If you are stuck and need a breakthrough idea then you may find this playful approach fun. Grab the biggest sheet of white paper you can find (no lines) and using the darkest pen you can find, start drawing something. It doesn’t matter if you draw stick figures or a replica of the Mona Lisa, the important is to do something creative for at least 10 minutes. Once your 10 minutes are up, take a 10 minute break and them come back and tackle your issue again. Your creative brain will help you find new and creative ways to solve your dilemma. 

Creative Thinking Tip #7 - Disprove the assumptions

Leadership StrategiesEdward KiledjianComment

If you haven't read my other articles in the series, read them before continuing: 

TIP #7 DISPROVE THE ASSUMPTIONS

When using creativity to solve a problem, this tip may come in handy. Typically I like to perform this activity on a big whiteboard.

Use a standard black marker and for 10 minutes, write down all of the assumptions you have about the problem. Don’t judge or belittle anything. Whatever assumption comes to mind write it down. Once your 10 minutes are up, go outside and take a 10 minute break.

Then come back and try to find one assumption you can disprove. Then take stock of the situation and see if new ideas bubble up. If your still stuck, take another assumption and ring it through the same process. After doing 5-6 of these, if you are still stuck, take another break then come back and continue.

Normally after about 3-4 assumptions, you will experience some kind of breakthrough thinking.

Creative Thinking Tip #6 - But What If You Could

Leadership StrategiesEdward KiledjianComment

If you haven't read my other articles in the series, read them before continuing: 

TIP #6 BUT WHAT IF YOU COULD? 

Usually when I talk to someone who  is stuck, I get some type of response like “I can’t think of…” or “I can’t find a way to…” or something else similar to that chain of thought.

In situations like this, I take them out of the current environment. We may go for a short walk, go to grab a coffee or anything else that takes the person out of their existing environment. Then I repeat what they told me “I can’t think of..” and I add, “but what if you could […] what would it look like”. Often the first reaction is one of disbelief. They can’t understand why you would ask them that type of question when they told you they can’t. After I get them to play along, I keep facilitating this chain of thoughts.

  • “but what if you could […] what would it look like”.
  • “Then what would it feel like”
  • “what would it look like”
  • “If you did it, how would that make you feel” 

So on and so forth. Most of the time, I would simply wait for the person to finish talking then look at them and say gently “and” or “because” which encourages them to keep going.

If is very common for the person who was “stuck beyond help” to help themselves out of their rut and into creating wonderful new solutions.

Creative Thinking Tip #5 - daydreaming your way to creativity

Leadership StrategiesEdward KiledjianComment

If you haven't read my other articles in the series, read them before continuing: 

TIP #5 DAYDREAMING YOUR WAY TO CREATIVITY

Even as children, most of us were told daydreaming was a useless activity and we were normally told to “snap out of it and concentrate on the task at hand”. Freud called daydreaming infantile. 

One of the more interesting studies I have read about daydreaming came from Daniel Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth from Harvard. Their study showed that people normally daydream 47% of the time while awake.

As cognitive science progressive, we are learning that daydreaming may actual be a useful cognitive tool. A study from the University of California at Santa Barbara ( by Schooler and Baird) provided a nice modern look at this “useless activity”. They chose 145 undergrads and gave them a standard creativity test called an “unusual use task”. For this test, the subjects are given 2 minutes to come up with creative uses of a boring everyday object like a clothes hangar, rope, etc. The subjects where put into one of four possible situations, 3 of which were: 

  • Resting in a quiet room
  • Performing short term memory tasks
  • Doing something extremely boring to encourage daydreaming

Subject assigned to the extremely boring task beforehand performed substantially better at the unusual use task (actually 41% better). The group that was allowed to daydream after being asked about the boring items did the best. It seems the incubation period (in the subconscious mind) cause by the daydreaming helped giggle the creative juices.  

"These data suggest that engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind to wander may facilitate creative problem solving," the researchers wrote in the study.

What does all of this mean? Daydreaming should be encouraged. Whether this is done while taking a long hot shower, sitting in a quiet office or cutting the grass, allow yourself to float into the wonder of your mind and that unbreakable problem may just be solved.