Even Your 4-Month Old Knows It’s Impossible
Even infants can be bemused by the impossibility of Escher’s drawings, recent research indicates.
The unusual and impossible draw our attention. In fact, this is how we pay attention. Numerous studies show that, in fact, we just scan our environment looking for exceptions. We don’t perceive all of it. We look at what’s different. (That’s part of why our firm is named after noticing those hidden dimensions of performance that may not be drawing your attention, but are still affecting you.)
Babies are the same way, and researchers note attention by babies based on how long they look at an object. I enjoyed reading Dave Munger’s blog account of how this experiment was structured, and how the researchers were able to use gaze-length to determine that the 4-month old babies could tell that Escher-like cubes were an impossibility.
I’ve always enjoyed Escher, but to think that my daughter could have enjoyed it with me years ago…
Note: Check out more on Necker Cubes, Escher-style blocks and more about cube-based optical illusions on Wikipedia.
Marketing Tips for Tough Times
My friend and colleague Alison Bliss has nicely summarized some key tips from Marketing Sherpa on ways to continue successfully marketing in a downturn. From negotiating with your vendors and keeping track of your data to see what’s working, to providing your customers with easier ways to buy, this quick read may stimulate your thinking.
Many companies think a horse race is all they need to pick a winner, without worrying about whether the horses are fast enough for the years ahead. These are companies that pride themselves on being obsessive about managing for performance, on paying and promoting those who deliver, while firing those who don’t. But often they turn out to be companies that think developing general managers is a waste of time, human relations an administrative task to be delegated and then ignored, and succession what you worry about the year before the CEO retires.
Joseph Bower, Harvard Business School, from The Leader Within: The Best CEO Succession Plans Groom Independent-minded Insiders for the Top Job
Harvard Business School Quotes Our Thinking On Deep Thinking
Early last June we noted Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge discussion about whether corporate managers think deeply any more, and if not, why not. Inspired by GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s public declaration that he was protecting deep thinking at GE, and the Zaltman’s latest book, Marketing Metaphoria, Baker Foundation Professor, Emeritus James Heskett posed the question of whether deep thinking is disappearing in corporate America. And if so, why?
We’re pleased to note that Jim Heskett chose to quote Lorre Zuppan in his summing up. If deep thinking were truly valued at GE, would Mr. Immelt need to declare to his devout protection of it to his managers or the world at large? We declare our priorities more loudly by our actions than by our words. If Mr. Immelt has effectively communicated the importance of deep thinking to GE’s future, why must he also announce his intent to fiercely protect it from his own managers?
That most of the world’s acknoledged best-run companies have this weakness provides hope for us all. No company gets everything right, and you don’t need to either. In business as in life, it’s the art of conciously focusing on what matters most that creates our success. As management guru Peter Drucker noted, it is typically at most about 10% of our activities that drive 90% of our results.
Our best wishes to Mr. Immelt in his effort to restore the respect and value for deep thinking that once existed. We hope that in this aspect he will also be leading the next hot trend. We’ll all be better for it.
Some researchers at CalTech have discovered that some people have a previously undiscovered synesthesia. You remember what synesthesia is, right? When stimulation of one sense causes automatic sensations of another sense to occur. For example, some synesthetes see words or letters as if they’re coded with different colors, or see colors from music or around people’s bodies. Of course not all synesthia is color-related, but the researchers at CalTech discovered a completely new form: synesthetes hearing noises when seeing movement.
If you’d like to see whether you might have auditory synesthesia, check out Dr. Saenz’s test. If you’d like to learn more about how Dr. Saenz discovered the phenomena, besides Dr. Saenz’s site, you can get a lovely reader’s digest version from Dave Bacon at the Quantum Pontiff, the source for this post.