"Failure to prepare is preparing to fail"
- Mike Murdock (hey, I thought it was a Bobby Knight quote. In fact assume it is...)
Just beneath the surface of Malcom Gladwell's "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" is a motif of preperation as a key to good decision making. Not necessarily a CPU-like heuristics routine or a detailed internal decision tree, but a backdrop of knowledge. Gladwell's proposition is that for all of our conscious learning, the power of the unconscious - the connections and relationships that we can see without necessarily being aware of what we are doing, can be a far more powerful tool.
This "Thin Slicing," as he calls it, is simply taking a mental 'snapshot' of something and allowing your subconscious to make the necessary calculations (to the slightly mathematical side of my brain, this strikes me as a similar approach to dx/dy) Unsurpisingly, this seems to have a great deal of applicablitly to athletics, among other endeavors. (Indeed, when I was in Seattle to see the Sawx second to latest Safeco debacle - it was listed as the favorite book of Raul Ibanez. This is the kind of in depth tid-bittery for which you pay me the big bucks.)
As intriguing as this theory is, and as compelling his examples (particularly that of Gen. Paul van Riper (ret.), I'm not sure there's really a whole book's worth of material here. As my roommate puts it "it's a two sentance thesis extended to 200 pages."
Pooh's View: Probably a magazine feature's worth of material extended Fortunately, Gladwell is such a talented author that it's a pretty breezy read. Where I a punster, I might even suggest that you shouldn't "Blink" - were I a punster...
Update: #23 "The Devil Wears Pinstripes" is up at Tuesdays With Torii.