We imported this pedagocical insight from the military
Since the 37th Anniversary in November we have been rethinking the SOT. Time for a transformation. During that time the SOT site was also seriously hacked and that new experience added to our rethink.
We have had many insights over the years as a result of offering online training to millions of people around the world and we are satisfied that our mission since 1979 (to get thinking as a school subject taught on the curriculum) has been well achieved.
The main insight that stands out above all the others is the value of the DFQ (Daily Feedback Question) Method which we use to develop lateral thinking skills. The insight is this:
the more DFQs the student does the greater the lateral thinking skill and the greater the return on the training investment of time and fees.
This pedagogical strategy of daily training was imported from the military leadership training (which is also known as PRR or Practise, Repetition Rehearsal).
To capitalise on this insight SOT will now focus more attention and service on those students that can commit to their DFQ training over time.
From 1 July the SOT will have a new offer: Master of Lateral Thinking, MLatTh(SOT).
From SOT, it is the world’s #1 academic degree in the mastery of lateral thinking. The offer will be launched with a marketing campaign called My Life x10.
The MLatTh(SOT) degree is a two-year programme requiring the completion of 500 DFQs. Those accepted must purchase an SOTuser Licence for $2888 per annum. The user licence includes all tuition fees for a year: 250 DFQs and full participation in the SOT experience.
Thank you for your interest and we are now delighted to present the offer document … just click …
Tristan Harris is an expert on how technology hijacks our psychological vulnerabilities. That’s why he spent the last three years as Google’s Design Ethicist caring about how to design things in a way that defends a billion people’s minds from getting hijacked …
When using technology, we often focus optimistically on all the things it does for us. But I want you to show you where it might do the opposite.
Where does technology exploit our minds’ weaknesses?
I learned to think this way when I was a magician. Magicians start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. Once you know how to push people’s buttons, you can play them like a piano.
That’s me performing sleight of hand magic at my mother’s birthday party And this is exactly what product designers do to your mind. They play your psychological vulnerabilities (consciously and unconsciously) against you in the race to grab your attention. I want to show you how they do it.
Hypnotise: If You Control the Menu, You Control the Choices
Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make “free” choices, while we ignore how we’re manipulated upstream by limited menus we didn’t choose.
This is exactly what magicians do. They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. I can’t emphasize enough how deep this insight is. When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:
“what’s not on the menu?”
“why am I being given these options and not others?”
“do I know the menu provider’s goals?”
For example, imagine you’re out with friends on a Tuesday night and want to keep the conversation going. You open Yelp to find nearby recommendations and see a list of bars. The group turns into a huddle of faces staring down at their phones comparing bars. They scrutinize the photos of each, comparing cocktail drinks. Is this menu still relevant to the original desire of the group?
It’s not that bars aren’t a good choice, it’s that Yelp substituted the group’s original question (“where can we go to keep talking?”) with a different question (“what’s a bar with good photos of cocktails?”) all by shaping the menu.
Moreover, the group falls for the illusion that Yelp’s menu represents a complete set of choices for where to go. While looking down at their phones, they don’t see the park across the street with a band playing live music. They miss the pop-up gallery on the other side of the street serving crepes and coffee. Neither of those show up on Yelp’s menu.
Yelp subtly reframes the group’s need “where can we go to keep talking?” in terms of photos of cocktails served.
The more choices technology gives us in nearly every domain of our lives (information, events, places to go, friends, dating, jobs) the more we assume that our phone is always the most empowering and useful menu to pick from. Is it?
The “most empowering” menu is different than the menu that has the most choices. But when we blindly surrender to the menus we’re given, it’s easy to lose track of the difference:
“Who’s free tonight to hang out?” becomes a menu of most recent people who texted us (who we could ping).
“What’s happening in the world?” becomes a menu of news feed stories.
“Who’s single to go on a date?” becomes a menu of faces to swipe on Tinder (instead of local events with friends, or urban adventures nearby).
“I have to respond to this email.” becomes a menu of keys to type a response (instead of empowering ways to communicate with a person).
All user interfaces are menus. What if your email client gave you empowering choices of ways to respond, instead of “what message do you want to type back?” (Design by Tristan Harris)
When we wake up in the morning and turn our phone over to see a list of notifications frames the experience of “waking up in the morning” around a menu of “all the things I’ve missed since yesterday.”
A list of notifications when we wake up in the morning how empowering is this menu of choices when we wake up? Does it reflect what we care about? (credit to Joe Edelman)
By shaping the menus we pick from, technology hijacks the way we perceive our choices and replaces them with new ones. But the closer we pay attention to the options we’re given, the more we’ll notice when they don’t actually align with our true needs.
Summary And How We Can Fix This
Are you upset that technology hijacks your agency? I am too. I’ve listed a few techniques but there are literally thousands. Imagine whole bookshelves, seminars, workshops and trainings that teach aspiring tech entrepreneurs techniques like this. They exist.
The ultimate freedom is a free mind, and we need technology that’s on our team to help us live, feel, think and act freely.
We need our smartphones, notifications screens and web browsers to be exoskeletons for our minds and interpersonal relationships that put our values, not our impulses, first. People’s time is valuable. And we should protect it with the same rigor as privacy and other digital rights.
Tristan Harris was Product Philosopher at Google until 2016 where he studied how technology affects a billion people’s attention, wellbeing and behavior.
On the job, some employees pay more attention than others. In selling some salespeople pay more attention than others. Why is that? Because not everyone has the same level of thinking.
According to GALLUP there are three types of employees: Engaged, Disengaged and Actively Disengaged.
In the latest Gallup Global Report Australia rated 16% Engaged, 60% Not-Engaged and 14% Actively Disengaged.
Rate Your Own Level of Cognitive Engagement
Attention is all about cognitive engagement. Here’s a simple audit for you to rate your own level of cognitive engagement in just 20 questions.
It was designed by Dr Eric Bienstock who is Vice-Principal of SOT in New York. Eric holds a Master’s degree in Mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and a Ph.D. from New York University where he studied Mathematics, Education and Learning Theory.
He based this checklist on the SOT’s Learn-To-Think Coursebook and Instructors Manual (Michael Hewitt-Gleeson & Edward de Bono, Capra/New 1982).
How well do you pay attention?
Use these 20 questions to rate your own employees’ level of lateral thinking …
INSTRUCTIONS: Answer each of the following 20 questions, scoring either 3, 2, 1, or 0 points for each answer depending on your objective estimate of how often your enterprise actually does what is stated. Use your best guess of the following criteria for scoring:
3 – 90% OF THE TIME (nearly always)
2 – 70% OF THE TIME (mostly)
1 – 40% OF THE TIME (often)
0 – 10% OF THE TIME (hardly ever)
– If your total score in this test was between 51 and 60 points, your enterprise may already possess superior brainpower.
– If you scored between 31 and 50 points, your thought-leaders may have better than average brainpower.
– If you scored between 0 and 30, you may possess no additional enterprise brainpower other than the natural thinking ability that most untrained people have.