Chapter 2: Part 4 – In the age of innovation, the right brain reigns supreme

Psychologists Keith Stanovich and Richard West first proposed the concepts of System 1 and System 2. They believe that our decision-making system has two systems. The operation of System 1 is unconscious and fast using intuition not very brain-consuming relying on emotions and instincts and completely under autonomous control. It uses so-called heuristic judgments which are a psychological shortcut when time or information constraints impair a person’s ability to make the best judgment or decision.

And System 2 shifts attention to brain activities that require brain power such as complex calculations. It is relatively slow thoughtful controllable and logical. Its operation is usually associated with subjective experiences such as behavior choice and focus. System 2 requires more cognitive ability than System 1 so it often uses a lot of immediate memory. But the human brain has limited capacity in this regard so it often uses System 1 to make up for it.

Nobel laureate in economics Daniel Kahneman further proposed on this basis that System 1 performs fast thinking while System 2 performs so-called rational slow thinking. But the proportions of these two types of thinking are different. Research shows that 96% of our decisions come from System 1’s fast thinking not from System 2’s slow thinking. In other words most human behavior is actually not the result of meticulous logical thinking.

Therefore in most cases we will not consciously decide what to do next. Many times our behavior is just a matter of habit. Of course we now know that habits can be cultivated or even manufactured. And we often find it difficult to change habits whether good or bad.

Therefore even if sometimes people use System 2 for rational thinking we usually try to avoid doing hard work as much as possible and unconsciously slide towards shortcut thinking. Our thinking will have a lot of bias and noise. We will try to seek help from others but we are skeptical about their insights. In short for most people most of the things we do actually meet the following characteristics: simple familiar beneficial urgent and easy.

These psychological research results are depressing especially for smart people with high IQs. We use System 2 thinking in IQ tests and our high scores are not our normal state. It deceives us. If it were not based on IQ tests but evaluated the daily judgment of most of us people’s IQs might not be normally distributed as shown by IQ tests. Our IQs in normal life most of the time may not reach 100 at all and may even be located very far to the left on the IQ curve.

Einstein was considered to have a typical high IQ. In the 1920s he passed through Shanghai twice although he only stayed for three days. But obviously old China did not leave him with any good impressions. In his later published private diary his description of Chinese people was full of prejudice and discrimination. If even scientists like Einstein make such judgments in their daily lives where can you expect ordinary people’s judgments to be good?

Therefore true innovation is not about finding a group of scientists to develop a cool product and then letting the public buy it. Such things sound simple and beautiful but they do not happen in the real world. The real difficulty of innovation is to let customers or users recognize the value of innovation. We already know that letting them use System 2 for rational thinking is a dead end. The really useful way is to design an easy-to-walk heart road so that System 1 can make fast thinking intuitively. This is the realistic way for innovation to truly help people.

For computer manufacturers the strong performance of new CPUs cannot make consumers feel directly. The double bar chart you draw on PPT will only make them half-believe half-doubtful. Jobs solved this problem with design when beautiful metal laptops softly reflected light consumers understood immediately they immediately confirmed that this must be a brand new high-quality computer that can be purchased with confidence.

But this is both difficult and dangerous and must be entrusted to well-intentioned firm believers who master intuitive methods. True goodness and beauty are essentially a whole originating from our right brain. Innovation needs right-brained thinkers to guard.

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