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 BLOG >> September 2012

Analytical and intuitive modes of understanding [Startups
Posted on September 27, 2012 @ 09:32:00 PM by Paul Meagher

Reading the Steven Jobs biography. About 50 or so pages into it. Good read so far.

Mostly reading about Jobs' intense search for spiritual meaning in his formative years, or at least up til about 20 years of age or so - difficult to tell sometimes because the cronology is not always evident in the narrative.

One point of interest for me so far was Jobs' early intellectual recognition of a distinction between analytical mode and intuitive modes of understanding. Jobs felt it was actually more important to cultivate the intuitive mode of thinking than the analytical mode which he felt was more dominant in North American society than Indian society (the main lesson he took from his 7 or so months in India looking for enlightenment).

Meditation, Zen, drugs, and extreme diets were some of the early tools that Jobs used to cultivate his intuitive side (I haven't read that far into the book so can't say more at this point). He was also passionate about electronics during his formative years so his analytical side was sufficiently well fed that the importance of cultivating his intuitive side may have been obvious to him. His analytical mode was also his more tempermental mode (think anger management level) so some Zen mode served him well early on and throughout his life.

The point I wish to make from this discussion is that the analytical/intuitive distinction is recognized in commonsense, spiritual, and scientific literature (Kahneman's thinking fast and slow) so perhaps there is some truth to it. Given the existence of these modes, we can ask the question about the relative importance of each mode in the roles of those involved in a startup. In many ways it is a false rivalry because the issue is not whether one or the other mode is better but, probably, how to successfully intergate both modes in all who are involved so as to drive innovation at the rate it needs to be fed. I expect the book to continue to explore this theme.

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