Dan Carlin’s creative thinking tool

One way to change decision making is to think different. One terrific tweak is to design different processes. “Start with the base rate” would be one way. Another is framing.

“I had a military history professor and one of the greatest things he taught, and I use this tool all the time, take out the most obvious easy solution from your consideration, take it out of the factoring in your thinking and then try to solve the problem.” – Dan Carlin, Common Sense, September 2021

Carlin goes on to say that part-of-the-reason there was no total war during the Cold War was because of nuclear war. Traditional war, Carlin notes, was “off the table”, and we are a creative bunch so a new solution was found.

Sometimes though, the culture of a place is so strong that framing traditional ideas in new ways is not enough. Mike Lombardi told Annie Duke that more organizations should have a “change department”, where an individual’s sole goal is to change your mind.

Sometimes the culture of a place is so so strong that framing or formatting are not enough. A new culture must be formed. This, wrote Clayton Chirstensen, is the innovator’s solution. Christensen’s disruption occurs when an industry leader continues to serve their best customers but the rules of the game change.

These are design choice. “Starting with the base rate” may not lead to adjusted conclusions but it will be closer to them than not. And we are all designers.


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