Insight: A Conversation with Gary Klein

From Edge:

Klein300 [GARY KLEIN:] What's the tradeoff between people using their experience (people using the knowledge they've gained, and the expertise that they've developed), versus being able to just follow steps and procedures? We know from the literature that people sometimes make mistakes. A lot of organizations are worried about mistakes, and try to cut down on errors by introducing checklists, introducing procedures, and those are extremely valuable. I don't want to fly in an airplane with pilots who have forgot their checklists, and don't have any ways of going through formal procedures for getting the planes started, and handling malfunctions, standard malfunctions. Those procedures are extremely valuable, and I don't doubt any of that. The issue is how does that blend in with expertise? How do people make the tradeoffs when they start to become experts? And does it have to be one or the other? Do people either have to just follow procedures, or do they have to abandon all procedures and use their knowledge and their intuition? I'm asking whether it has to be a duality. I'm hoping that it doesn't and this gets us into the work on system one and system two thinking.

System one is really about intuition, people using the expertise and the experience they've gained. System two is a way of monitoring things, and we need both of those, and we need to blend them, and so it bothers me to see controversies about which is the right one, or are people fundamentally irrational, and therefore they can't be trusted? Obviously system one is marvelous. Danny Kahneman has put it this way, “system one is marvelous, intuition is marvelous but flawed.” And system two isn't the replacement for our intuition and for our experience, it's a way of making sure we don't get ourselves in trouble.

More here.