Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Here's my snap judgment of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking: It's a good book, very entertaining, filled with fascinating stories and anecdotes. But I don't know what to do with it.

Gladwell discusses "rapid cognition," its usefulness, limitations, and possible applications. He convinces me, I think, that snap judgments can often be better decisions than over-researched conclusions, that I can make better snap judgments by systematic and extensive training, and that (as he says on nearly the last page of the book) "if we can control the environment in which rapid cognition takes place, then we can control rapid cognition." But I don't feel any better equipped to make good decisions after reading this book.

I began the book hoping to find some application to my life and ministry as a church leader. I was disappointed, not only because the book seems to offer little or no practical suggestion for how I can effectively implement rapid cognition, but also because it seems that the techniques he dubs "thin-slicing," "snap judgments," and "mind-reading," while they may work reasonably well in hierarchical-command scenarios where an individual or small team are empowered to make critical decisions, they have far less application in most team leadership scenarios. In other words, rational cognition would probably lose much of its usefulness to a leader who must lead by consensus (of course, that may be a salient point for organizations to heed, if they want strong or adaptable leadership).

Still, Blink is probably one of the most thought-provoking books I have read all year, and certainly one of the most pleasurable.


  1. Bob, great comments. Gladwell's "The Outliers" is another excellent read, but like "Blink" I don't know what to do with it.

  2. Thanks, Joe. I need APPLICATION, man! News I can use. Show me the money (or at least the utility!).