What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

In early 2000 I got to study a very interesting Italian company called Ducati Corse.  And what this company does is racing motorcycles.  It’s a very important business for them because what they do during the races  actually translates in sales of commercial bikes.  What is interesting is that in 2003 this company entered a new type of competition called MotoGP.  And they decided that this was gonna be a learning season where they would collect a lot of data to try to understand how to make their bikes more competitive and better.  As it turns out they started having a lot of success at the beginning of the season and so they completely forgot about their goal and their plan of using the data to learn.  And by the end of the season they redesigned the bike for the year after and they basically designed over 60 percent of the components of the bike without even testing them.

So what does this story tell us?  In their own words if you talk to the team at Ducati Corse they would say they were a little bit overconfident.  The fact that they won so many races at the beginning made them feel very confident about their abilities to perform and forget about their plan of actually using the first season in MotoGP as a learning season.  Now, as it turns out, feeling of overconfidence because we think too highly of ourselves is a factor that comes in the way of us sticking to our plans more generally. 

There is a beautiful study conducted in the late 90s where people were asked to indicate who was most likely to go to heaven.  So people had to rate a different set of people – like Michael Jordan and Bill Clinton and they gave them percentages that were lower than 70 percent.  Then they rated Mother Teresa’s likelihood to go to Heaven and she received a percentage a little bit higher.  It was around 75 percent.  But what is interesting is that people gave themselves an 87 percent chance of going to Heaven.  So this is a humorous study that suggests that oftentimes we have very positive views of ourselves, of our competence, of our skills and, in a sense, we have a positive view of all possible socially desirable dimensions.  And because of this very positive view we tend to be very confident in our decisions.  And that can get us derailed when we are trying to implement our plans.  

So what can we do about it?  In my book I talk about a principle that is quite simple and it’s called raise your awareness.  Be aware of the fact that we tend to have these overly positive views of our skills and competencies and that we should ask ourselves when we make decisions and when we’re implementing our plans whether those views are sidetracking us because we are too confident in our own abilities.

Directed / Produced by

Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

 

More from the Big Idea for Tuesday, November 05 2013

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Dunning-Krueger Effect describes how people are not very good at measuring their own competence. In fact, the least skilled are often the ones who are the least aware of their shortcomings. So... Read More…

 

Understanding Overconfidence

Newsletter: Share: