Posts Tagged ‘Outliers’

Michael Wells
by Michael Wells
Mon Jun 22nd 2009 at 2:36pm UTC

Social Support

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

I’ve been thinking about social support networks lately and so pieces in recent books have stood out. Humans are social animals who are able to organize ourselves or act individually, but the family and small group networking connections are still more important than generally acknowledged. The implications for a creative economy is that how companies and cities are organized can be as important as what they do or make in their success.

These examples are mostly medical, partly because that’s where a lot of research goes on, but the implications for society are universal.

  • The first chapter of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers talks about the town of Roseto, PA which was founded by Italians from Roseto, Italy in the 1890s. Doctors noticed that the residents were unusually healthy. But investigations showed little difference in diet, personal habits, the natural environment, etc. What they did find was that the social and friendship networks were unusually strong. This mutual support resulted in less heart disease and other maladies.
  • This reminded me of Dr. Dean Ornish’s work with treating heart disease with diet, exercise, meditation, yoga, and social/family support. When his success in not only stopping but reversing heart disease was reported, the medical establishment said, “Yes, we know that if our patients shifted to a low-fat diet, exercised, and reduced stress it would reduce heart attacks. But people won’t follow our orders so we just schedule bypasses.” The difference was the social and family involvement, which got people to change their behaviors.
  • In The Age of the Unthinkable, Ramos tells about AIDS patients in Tugela Ferry, South Africa who had extraordinary levels of medication compliance because rather than doctors just saying “take these pills” they explained the science and involved family members. People stuck to the regimen despite the extreme side effects, while groups who were just told to follow doctors orders would stop medication when they felt better.
  • A growing evidence-based practice in residential drug treatment is the “Therapeutic Community,” where peers are involved in each others’ recovery. It has better results than just staff-led treatment.
  • Then this article in the Portland Tribune tells about a program to have severely mentally ill people work real jobs rather than “sheltered workshops.” The job stress that was assumed to be too much for them to handle turns out to actually help them get better.

From quality circles to army platoons to extended families, people working together are healthier, more productive and more creative. How can this knowledge be used to build the creative economy?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Nov 12th 2008 at 8:19am UTC

10,000 Hours

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, Outliers, is in launch mode. The Globe and Mail has a terrific interview.

Anything that is cognitively complex seems like it requires at least 10,000 hours… It’s deliberate practice, so it’s focused, determined, in environments where there’s feedback, where there’s a chance to really learn from mistakes. What’s fascinating about this notion that expertise arises only after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is that it seems to apply incredibly broadly to an astonishing array of different professions – from playing chess to writing classical music to being a brain surgeon to playing hockey…

A critical part of high achievement is not a function of your IQ, your analytical ability, the size of your hard drive in your brain, but rather, a function of your ability to navigate the world and get what you want from the world… We radically underestimate how much high achievers rely on that practical side.

There’s no way around it. There’s no shortcut. One of the things that drives me crazy about a lot of educational reform ideas is that they try to find shortcuts: a charismatic principal; a cool technology; a fancy new school. All of those things are beside the point. This issue is, do you have enough time in school to master the things you need to know…

Because we squander talent. Even in a country like Canada, where hockey is a priority, an obsession, we’re squandering a huge amount of hockey talent without realizing it. We could have twice as many star players if we just changed the institutional rules around finding talent. To me, that’s such a powerful lesson. Because it just says, look, in a simple area like hockey, in a country that cares more about it than almost anything else, if you’re still squandering 50 per cent of your ability, how much more are we squandering everywhere else?

Now extend that line of thinking to just about every area of human endeavor. Can’t wait to read this one.