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MikeP

"Check Six"

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The Guns of August
Barbara W. Tuchman, Robert K. Massie
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - Malcolm Gladwell Blink is an elegant 5 Star piece of science writing, dealing with how we think and chose in an instant. We make snap decisions based on experience or some other basis. Sometimes that is good and sometimes not. There are many good reviews so I am not going to spend more time on a review. What I will point out are two examples of how this book remains relevant today.

First example is the recent campaign by Coca-Cola to sell specially colored white/silver cans of Coke over the 2011-2012 winter season to support “the plight of the polar bears.” Now, regardless of what you think about the motivation, the Cokeheads didn’t do their homework very well. In the book, Gladwell gives an example of a time 7-UP changed the shade of their green can and people complained that they had changed the taste. The 7-UP folks had simply changed the outside of the can, not the inside. Well, the very same thing happened to Coke. People started complaining the taste of regular Coke was different and sales started to go down. Well, astute businessmen that they are, the Cokies changed back to the normal red can ahead of schedule and sales went right back up, complaints went away. A simple reading of this book could have avoided this little mixup. (Coke continued the campaign to support the polar bears, or rather, the enviro’s who claim special concern over the bears plight).

Another example is when I saw this principle in action. I was in the hospital recovery room after my son had an operation. A older couple was at another station as the wife was also recovering. One of the nurses offered her a soda and she asked for a Diet Coke. Well, the nurse reached into the small refrig and pulled out what looked like a Diet Coke but was really one of the special white/silver regular Coke cans. Only at the very last moment did the wife notice it wasn’t a diet drink. The thing is she is a diabetic and the sugary regular Coke would not have been good for her. Again, a brief glance resulted in a snap decision that could have been a real problem. Had the human factors folks at Coke read this book, maybe they would have noted this.

I like Gladwell. He explains science simply and makes me feel smarter than I really am. Thanks dude.