Blink Reflection #3
I enjoyed the story that Gladwell opened up in this section, albeit a brief one. It was told a bit faster paced and got to the point quickly without any needless detail. The actual thing Gladwell was writing about, the improve sketches, was a good topic to discuss people working together to create successful spontaneity. Gladwell blends these two different stories together, the Mother group and Van Riper, and to compare them in ways that people can use the same tactics to create situations that benefit them in unrehearsed events. He goes on into Van Riper’s tale of success and how his ability to quickly make decisions in stressful situations, or in situations where he only has little time, helps him in the Millennium Challenge. I found Gladwell’s writing in this passage very accommodating for people without prior military experience, however I kept getting stuck in certain sections as I tried to make out what I was reading. It could get a bit confusing at times. I’ve learned from the Van Riper tale of Blink that quick decisions can be as beneficial as thought out processes and even better than methodical thinking. However, I do believe that it depends on the situation. Van Riper was in a good spot for these spontaneous decisions. In the midst of combat, you don’t have time to think out a strategy while the enemy is approaching rapidly, or you have been ambushed. Van Riper had good instincts and was able to thin-slice his way out of difficult situations which is why he excelled in combat in Vietnam. Van Riper fought in close combat quarters in an urban city, Hue City in Vietnam. Things were packed in so tightly you didn’t have a chance to think about your next movement. But Van Riper was able to distinguish the next best move in this chaotic battle.
Gladwell also dwells on the fact that “less is more”. He uses an example of an experiment using jam sales. I liked this experiment, as I could definitely relate to it. When there are more options, it becomes harder to narrow things down for me. When there are only a select few options, it’s easier to make a decision as your choices are limited. When first describing the Pepsi and Coca Cola study, I was very confused with the public opinion of Old and New Coke. It all seemed very abnormal to me. The human mind and its complications have always been fascinating to me, but it can be very frustrating to decipher how a mob psyche works.