Tag Archives forInsight

Community feedback may predict a company’s financial performance

Just finished an article on the Kellogg Insight web site discussing research findings on mavens, community, and influence.

Using key work semantic analysis on the community postings, the Kellogg researchers determined those knighted as “influencers” are able to disproportionately sway opinion vs. the average community member.  And more often than not, influencers took positions on a product’s performance and whether or not to buy the product.

This could be a great tool for those in the financial services industry.  More specifically for analyst who follow and analyze earnings of product based companies.  By using an online community and deploying a systematic research focus, it may be theoretically possible to determine how well a new product might perform in the market place.  And, if it is a highly visible product (from a company’s revenue generation perspective) the community’s response could be a leading indicator on the impact the company’s bottom line.

Over thinking thinking?

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends what the definition of “thinking” is.

An interesting interview on Seed‘s website with the Jonah Lehrer, author of “The Black Box of Decision Making”

Short version of an article worth reading: do we over think important decisions?  The reductive: what is the optimal way to think about important decisions?

It turns out the answer is out is yes, we rely too much on our conscious analytic abilities to make important decisions.  Apparently our conscious brains cannot process huge amounts of data (e.g. the rise and weed proliferation of Twitter).  Thankfully we do have a cerebral processor that can handle huge amounts of data – our unconscious mental processing:  “Research suggests that it’s complex decisions, the ones that involve lots of information, that benefit the most from unconscious emotional processing. The conscious brain can only handle a very limited amount of information at one time?—?seven digits, plus or minus two. Unconsciously, however, you can process tons of information.”

To make matters worse, our self confidence in our conscious analytic capabilities only exacerbate the decisions making process.  By ignoring or diminishing the value of new information, we essentially seal our unconscious brain away from new data to process and synthesize into new insights.

The articles recommendation? Be open to new information, go with your gut, and for heaven sake, don’t over analyze those big decisions.  Your brain has already done it for you.  Just trust it.

Seeing the World Differently Makes You Crazy?

I read a blog posting on the Idea Connection blog about creative types and mental illness.  The main point of the posting revolved around original thinkers and the prevalence of mental illness, even in a mild form.

Conducted by Dr. Arnold Ludwig, the study surveyed “1000 original thinkers in a wide array of professions – art, music, business, science, politics and sports. In his research spanning close to 10 years, he studied these people’s mental fitness, their chosen professions and the relationships between their mental health and career selection” (quote taken from the actual Idea Connection blog post, not Dr Ludwig)

Results from his study (”Method and Madness in the Arts and Sciences”) showed that:

  • 9 out of 10 poets studied had diagnosable mental disorders (!)
  • 77% of fiction writers had mental disorders
  • 74% of theater people
  • 73% of painters and other visual artists
  • 68% of musicians (not sure if there is a difference between classical/jazz vs. rock)

I commented on the blog post.  I pondered not the actual results, albeit I do find them interesting.   What struck me was the “why”?  Why does there seem to be a correlation (at least based upon this one study)?

My theory based upon not one shred of empirical evidence: people with mental illnesses see things (no pun intended) that others do not.  Specifically, these people see connections where many see noise among verse, ideas, patterns, and themes.  Perhaps the mental illness removes filters that allows for these connections to be drawn.  After all, creativity is seldom drawn from obscure hard to access information.  Actually it is quite the opposite.  The raw materials for creativity are often in front of our noses.  It is the catalyst and connections that are seemingly evanescent and hard to pin down.

Delayed Gratification

While enjoying the first cup of coffee, I read an HBS article I saw Rachel Happe Tweeted (correct verb?) about 2 weeks ago.  The article is a good quick read, non sequitur – has HBS been bitten by new age?

I digress.  The article focuses on the importance of letting go and concentrating on what you love while looking for a job.  Not what I would call net-new advice.  But look at the comments, here is where the article really comes alive.  Real people jumping in and offering personal insights bring real color to the otherwise somewhat sterile article (vague references to individuals vs. personal stories with more details).  I love how those short comments on the article show a diversity in the article’s readership (assuming of course the commenter’s are representative of the larger reading population).

And this leads to my habit.  Often I’ll wait a couple of days to read a recommend article or blog posting.  The delay allows other readers to contribute and comment.  You find this to be true especially among content that is thought provoking, controversial, or runs against common accepted knowledge.  More than once I’ve found more insight in the comments than I did in the actual article.  Downside? Sometimes the proverbial horse has left the barn if you want to be part of the conversation as people move on to the next thing after a few days.