Why divergent thinkers beat geniuses in the real world
The idea for the Nintendo Game Boy system was born out of a philosophy that had a much less catchy name: lateral thinking with withered technology.
The term was coined by Gunpei Yokoi, a Nintendo employee who started at the company with a similarly dry job: machine maintenance worker. One day, a Nintendo executive noticed that Yokoi had made a simple handheld toy in his spare time. Let’s sell it, said the CEO. It became a small hit.
Yokoi was eventually promoted to help build the company’s video game business. But he recognized that he didn’t have the expertise to advance the pinnacle of the video game world. So he decided on a very specific strategy: to take already well-understood knowledge and technology from different domains and combine them in unique ways to create new products. The result was the Game Boy.
In this interview with Big Think, David Epstein, author of the 2019 book Span: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, explains how lateral thinking—the kind of thinking where you approach problems from non-obvious angles—is a problem. a coping strategy that is surprisingly well suited to our rapidly changing world.
DAVID EPSTEIN: A miracle of children, especially in the age of YouTube, are like human cat videos. Whether they play classical music they are either in sports or playing chess, you can’t take your eyes off them, they are so much fun. We think of it as a trajectory. If they are this good at the age of five or 10, they will be so good at 20 or 30 or 40 years old. And I think that’s the idea parents tend to take from them is it if i just give my child this is very narrowly focused, early technical training, my children will be in front and will forever remain ahead. That’s just the problem it turned out not to be.
I’m David Epstein, the author “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in the specialized world.”
Okay, even if you don’t know tiger woods story details, is probably the most powerful a modern development story. His father gave him a bat when he was seven months old. He was two years old on national television showing off his momentum in front of Boba Hope. He was learning how to do it at three play from “sand twap”, as he said at the time and saying, “I will be the next great golfer. “I’ll be the next Jack Nicholas.” By the time he becomes a teenager, he is already famous. And you progress quickly to the age of 21 and he is the greatest golfer in the world.
I think it’s one of the reasons that miracle stories are so attractive andbecause we are used to it thinking of everything like a path, right? It is intuitive to want give the child priority. In sports, it could be something like learning to run certain types of plays or very specific techniques. Or in music, how to play the same piece over and over and over. Or in academia, tricks for solving mathematical problems. The problem is that we don’t follow linear progressions. We are not connected correctly to interpret our development necessarily because we just want what comes fastest when in many cases the development is slower is actually the best in the long run.
One way of thinking about the world should think about it as a learning environment, and milieu in which you have to evolve some kind of skill. They work on a spectrum of friendly learning environment where what you need to do is very clear and clearly delineated rules and patterns are repeated and the task does not change, down to the wicked ones learning environments where information may be hidden, there are none visible rules, work is subject to change and even the feedback you receive it can be delayed and inaccurate. And we only see those miracles andin these very friendly learning environments. You can come up with something like chess. Grandmaster advantage is essentially based on recognizing repeating patterns. But we do most of the work these days is more towards evil end of the spectrum, where we can’t just count that things are the same over and over again or gives us perfectly accurate feedback.
For a wicked world, you will really broad training base, what scientists call the sampling period, where you form conceptual frameworks and abstract ideas that you can be bent according to the activity as the activity itself changes. For most of the 20th century, the biggest contributors came from a specialist. But in the information year, as more information spreads quickly and easily, it became easier to be wider than a specialist and the biggest contributions started coming in from people spreading theirs they work on a large number technological domains, often taking something from one and bringing it to another area where it was considered extraordinary, even if it was more ordinary elsewhere.
Gunpei Yokoi was Japanese who did not score a good goal on his own electronics exams at university so he had to settle for a menial job as a machine maintenance worker in a card playing company. This card playing company, founded in the 19th century, it’s called Nintendo. And one day, the president from the company saw Yokoi basically playing around with company equipment because he had nothing to do and he made overtime a hand called the Ultra Hand. It was just a device where you could grab distant objects with rubber bands. And a desperate president he says, “turn it into a toy, “let’s go to the market,” and that is a kind of success. And so the president says, “Okay, “you will start a game and toy operation.”
Yokoi realizes that he is not equipped work on the cutting edge, but there is so much information widely available to be able to receive information from different domains and put it together, and he did it yes for his magnum opus, Game Boy. He developed this philosophy he called lateral thinking with withered technology. And what did he mean by that? that, withered technology, he meant technology already well understood readily available and often inexpensive, and lateral thinking meant taking it from an area where everyone is already used to and merging with something else. Because the technology was so dry and so well understood, developers inside and outside of Nintendo pumped games for that way fbetter than its competitors and the Game Boy became best selling console 20th century and Nintendo still uses it that lateral thinking with the withered technological philosophy today.
The more we do ua a rapidly changing world where we’re not exactly sure what we should do next or what the job will look like next year or in five years or 10 years, the more we want those people who had a broad view and can somehow draw different repositories of knowledge. And one of the ways I think on the operationalization of that andbasically it does short-term mindset. I know it sounds bad, right? Tell people they should have long-term goals and that it is like opening speech tip, “who will you be in 10 or 20 years?” and “the march towards it.” Turns out it wasn’t really good way of working, especially when you’re younger. Basically we are tell someone to choose for a person they don’t know yet who will work at ua a world I can’t yet imagine.
The main tip, if I judge from what people tell me, is that I don’t feel behind because you probably don’t even know where are you going, anyway. And I mean, rather rather than comparing yourself to someone other than you you should compare yourself to myself yesterday and continue on that path.
#divergent #thinkers #beat #geniuses #real #world