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The Primes: How any Group can Solve any Problem by CHRIS McGOFF

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Chapter 15

Avoiding Bright and Shiny Objects and Squirrels

How do you manage distractions?

T. S. Eliot once observed that he found himself “distracted from distraction by distraction.” In a 2010 Science magazine article, Patricia Greenfield, a developmental psychologist who runs UCLA's Children's Digital Media Center, concluded that our growing use of screen-based media is causing “new weaknesses in higher order cognitive processes,” including weaknesses in “abstract vocabulary, mindfulness, reflection, inductive problem solving, critical thinking, and imagination.” In short, we as people are chronically interrupted. And this problem is going to get much worse as our appliances, vehicles, and even food products vie for our attention.

At the same time, high-performance groups adhere to the advice of Mozart when he said, “The shorter way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.” Bruce Lee speaks truth to those who are taking on the status quo when he advises, “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

The PRIMES in this chapter will outfit you to carve out a space in this over-stimulating environment to give you and your team a mental and physical place to think critically, pursue insights relentlessly, imagine and design innovations, and concentrate deeply on complex problem solving and system transformation.

Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.

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