Streetlights and Shadows
In making decisions, when should we go with our gut and when should we try to analyze every option? When should we use our intuition and when should we rely on logic and statistics? Most of us would probably agree that for important decisions, we should follow certain guidelines--gather as much information as possible, compare the options, pin down the goals before getting started. But in practice we make some of our best decisions by adapting to circumstances rather than blindly following procedures. In Streetlights and Shadows, Gary Klein debunks the conventional wisdom about how to make decisions.
Klein offers more realistic ideas about how to make decisions in real-life settings. He provides many examples--ranging from airline pilots and weather forecasters to sports announcers and Captain Jack Aubrey in Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander novels--to make his point. All these decision makers saw things that others didn’t. They used their expertise to pick up cues and to discern patterns and trends. We can make better decisions, Klein tells us, if we are prepared for complexity and ambiguity and if we will stop expecting the data to tell us everything.
About the Author
Gary Klein is a Senior Scientist at Applied Research Associates. He is the author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions (1999) and the coauthor of Working Minds: A Practitioner’s Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis (2006), both published by the MIT Press.
"Streetlights and Shadows is a fascinating study of leadership and adaptive decision making. It is absolutely relevant to the complex and uncertain strategic environment that we live and work in today. Gary Klein's work helps establish an important context that is essential to the effective growth and development of leaders and decision makers at all levels".
Peter J. Schoomaker, General, US Army (Retired), Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army 2003-2007
"Streetlights and Shadows is based on decades of empirical scientific studies of experts and top professionals in a variety of domains that are important to business, industry, government, and society as a whole. Klein has done perhaps more than any other scientist to illuminate the mysteries of expert reasoning and human decision making in the 'real world'that is, the world outside the laboratory. Using his distinctive story-telling style, Klein adroitly eviscerates myths and offers cogent explanations of human expertise and judgment. Cognitive Science may have found its Darwin in Gary Klein, a genuine explorer of the human cognitive landscape."
Kenneth M. Ford, Director and CEO, Institute for Human and Machine Cognition
"Gary Klein's Streetlights and Shadows challenges ten common misconceptions about decision making and focuses on how real people, especially experts, try to make sense of a situation in a world of ambiguity and then decide and adapt to meet the needs of the situation. He folds in and interprets the research findings of many others in the field and explains convincingly the boundedness of the rationality model. Exceptionally readable, with a wealth of fascinating anecdotes based on a lifetime of exploring how real people make decisions, it should be required reading for anyone attempting to understand and model human decision making."
Alexander H. Levis, Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering, George Mason University, Chief Scientist of the Air Force 2001-2004
"Gary Klein has taken aim at attempts to base decision making on analytic reasoning. To his credit, he does not claim that analytic decision models are useless. He argues that they are limited, and he shows how and why. Klein shows the importance of human understanding and experience as alternatives to analytic models, especially in complex and dynamic situations. He makes his point with many excellent examples, drawn both from his own extensive experience and from the literature. This is a book that should be read by anyone with a serious interest in how decisions ought to be made, whether by humans or machines."
Earl Hunt, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
"I know of no one who combines theory and observation—intellectual rigor and painstaking observation of the real world—so brilliantly and gracefully as Gary Klein."
—Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and Blink