Seeking intuition and creativity

Check out Alden N. Hyashi’s review of the recently published Keeping Up with the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics (Harvard Business School Publishing) written by Thomas H. Davenport and Jinho Kim.  (“Thriving in a Big Data World” in the Winter 2014 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review).  The book is written for executives who need to understand big data and its associated science and work with quantitative analysts (“the quants”) who do the actual analytical work.  Hyashi describes the book as providing a three-step framework for how to think like a “quant”:  framing the problem, solving the problem, and communicating and acting on the results.

keeping up with the quants

 

We’ve posted generally about reframing a question, such as here and here.  Davenport and Kim make the point that articulating the right question is critical to finding the data that will solve your problem, and that this takes creativity.  Or, as Hyashi so eloquently states, “An important point made in Keeping Up with the Quants is that this new era of computational prowess does not obviate the need for intuition and creativity, and that is especially true in the important first step of framing a problem.” 

Data scientists might be a helpful new variety of scientist in our world, but people who know how to ask the right questions to solve a problem are as golden as they have been since the beginning of time.

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Positive Pschology and The Science of Character

Happy Weekend!  Today, please be inspired and informed by Tiffany Shlain and the Moxie Institute’s great eight-minute film, “The Science of Character.” Then, head over to check out these additional resources on the filmaker’s website or head here to take your free Character Strengths Profile from VIA Me! .

it’s too big

You are an active participant in your own life. You work hard, pay attention, and contribute to reaching and exceeding goals. You improve your skills, build your character, and try to understand issues from many sides. You are patient. You don’t whine. You get help. You talk it out with friends and speak to the experts. You try so hard, and maybe even make some progress.

But the problem persists. It doesn’t go away, even with you trying to chip away at it every day. It happens to all of us: the problem is simply bigger and more complex than we are. And sometimes we just can’t solve it. We can’t beat it. It gets us.

As a citizen of the United States, a country built on the principles and culture of self-reliance and going it alone, living in what’s frequently touted as the greatest country in the world, filled with opportunity for all, we are told, there can be a marked tendency to believe that success is available just around the corner if we’re doing all the right things. The truth is, sometimes it just isn’t. And our problem does not have to do with how hard we are working, our positive outlook, or how much we want it. The problem is simply too big for us. We don’t have control.

Yesterday, my email from Daily Worth arrived in my mailbox with Caitlin Kelly’s introduction to Pound Foolish: Exploring the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Forbes columnist Helaine Olen. The nature of Ms. Olen’s work resonated with me, as I’ve spent hours with a friend listening to her excellent and dogged research of how the economic disasters of the past several years have impacted the lives of humans, often with tsunami-like force and resulting devastation. Some of us are managing, and some of us are devastated, and much of it has to do with uncontrollable, destroying force that indiscriminately chooses its victims. Terminal illness. Financial bankruptcy. A failing marriage. Sometimes we can’t stop it, we can’t solve it.

Olen’s work reminds us that no matter how many gurus tell us they have the answer if you only do this or this or this, the problem, the circumstances, the solution may not be in our control. Self-help experts abound; indeed, we are exploring professional and personal growth here.

Keep perspective, my friends. Broaden and keep perspective.

Books: Creating Time

Last Friday, I shared that I am reading Creating Time by Marney K. Makridakis. So, this week, I read the first three chapters.

This is a fun book with a good mix of fascinating facts and information (did you know that one second equals 9,192,631,770 oscillations of the undisturbed cesium atom?) and solid coaching on how to examine and change our relationship with time. In Chapter One, there are suggestions for time-keeping alternatives: instead of measuring 60 minutes, how about measuring how much joy you feel or how relaxed you feel? I have yet to complete my assignment from the first chapter, making a box decorated in a time motif that will hold my beliefs about time, but I am hoping to show it to you soon!

Chapter Two goes on to help the reader explore his or her relationship with time. I love this:

One of the most common desires is to have time that is “managed”: time that is efficient and productive. In addition to efficient time, we also need other types of time, including . . Dream time . . . Concentrated time . . . Self-care time . . Private time . . Planning/preparation time . . .

Ms. Makridakis explores how we would be if we didn’t worry about time (See “Exploring Your Time Anxiety”!) and how we can learn to trust and befriend time. She reintroduces us to the concept of divine timing and its gifts.

Chapter Three brought to my attention, once again, my serious lack of science education and knowledge, as it delves into some of the implications of Einstein’s theory of special relativity (did you know that Einstein had two theories of relativity, special and general??). However, Ms. Makridakis is most kind, explaining time and relativity gently and practically. She shows us “how easily our perception of time is altered, simply by the location of the mind’s focus” and introduces her “Theory of Wellativity.”

Ms. Makridakis’ wonderful Theory of Wellativity is a practical approach to consciously controlling time by adjusting inner relativity. Her specific formula looks like this:

formula

which means Fulfillment = Time + Imagination(squared)

What I love about this book is that it is creative and imaginative and substantive. Every page I turn has real prompts for changing my relationship with time. While the material is a pleasure to read, it can benefit from deeper engagement. This weekend I intend to circle back through the first three chapters, rereading each and completing the art assignments to fully engage in the material. I’ll keep you posted!

Books: Creating Time

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Yesterday, I started reading Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life by Marney K. Makridakis. This book explores the concept of time and how to increase our perception of time through creativity. As someone who feels chronically short of the precious commodity, I look forward to finding new ways of perceiving time. Join me in reading this book and share your comments this week, or at the least, check in next Friday, where I will share nuggets of wisdom from Ms. Makridakis.