Intuitive Decision Making and Military History

One of the recent popular books that delves into the subject of critical and creative thinking is Malcolm Gladwell’s best selling Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. This book y is a fairly in depth discussion of intuitive decision making. What is interesting is that I was not expecting Gladwell to talk about the military, but he does. The following is an excerpt from the book:

“Of all the interviews I conducted while researching Blink, the one that made the most lasting impression on me was my interview with General Paul Van Riper –the hero (or villain) of the Pentagon’s Millennium Challenge war game…. I remember being surprised when he took me on a tour of his house by the number of books in his study. In retrospect, of course, that’s a silly thing to find surprising. Why shouldn’t a Marine Corps general have as many books as an English professor? I suppose that I had blithely assumed that generals were people who charged around and “did” things; that they were men of action, men of the moment. But one of the things that Van Riper taught me was that being able to act intelligently and instinctively in the moment is possible only after a long and rigorous course of education and experience. Van Riper beat Blue Team because of what he had learned about waging war in the jungles of Vietnam. And he also beat Blue Team because of what he had learned in that library of his. Van Riper was a student of military history.”

What Galdwell is implying is that a foundation of intuitive decision making –thinking without thinking –is study and preparation, and for the military professional a major component of that study is military history.  Now to just get the senior military leadership to buy the concept.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Really enjoyed this book, also have read Outliers and The Tipping Point. Definitely recommend Gladwell’s audio book versions as read by the author. Gladwell’s new book What the Dog saw also looks interesting but do not know that much about it yet. From the three I have enjoyed, they are certainly not copies of one another. Each book explores a different topic with the similar style of facts and explanations entertainingly explored by Gladwell.
    V/r,
    J.


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