“Flipping” Like a Fox

I came across this article, and though it was a perfect example of what I’m talking about when I say I want to spread “tools” for thinking like a Fox.  I shudder to think what would happen to bureaucrats and drones everywhere if CEOs, politicians and Flag Officers starting using this tactic with their staffs.

The general idea is that by “flipping” a question or situation, you can substantially change your odds of getting the information or result you need.  In the first example from that article, author Ian Ayres says:

You’ve just finished dinner at a nice restaurant and you order a decaf coffee instead of regular so that you won’t have trouble falling asleep. A few minutes later, your server brings you a steaming cup of Joe. You want to drink it, but you’re worried it might have caffeine. At this point, I normally ask something like “Are you sure this is decaffeinated?”

But my friend (and newly tenured colleague) Yair Listokin tells me that Oprah suggests that we ask instead: “Is this regular coffee?” Or, “Are you sure this is regular coffee?”

It’s not fool proof, but asking “is it regular” will let you know whether the waiter is willing to say “yes” to any question.

By flipping the question, we reduce the possibility that we will just get the answer we want to hear.  Imagine if JFK had asked his advisors “So tell me again why you’re against this Bay of Pigs invasion?”

The downside, of course, is that the person you’re asking the flipped question to might think you are insane, but that’s probably something I can live with.

Advertisements

About thinklikeafox

I'm a Naval Officer living in Southern California. I hope to be attending law school in the next year or two, and I started writing this blog out of a desire to improve my writing and critical thinking skills after a couple years outside of academia.
This entry was posted in Toolkit and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s