🕵️‍♂️ Mastermind: Imagination in a straitjacket

In honor of her new book, The Biggest Bluff, we will spend this week revisiting Maria Konnikova’s book Mastermind: How to think like Sherlock Holmes.

The reason design is so important in thinking like Holmes and in life is that we tend to create desire paths about where we want to go, whether that’s been approved or not. Put another way, we don’t like effort. 

It was Richard Feynman who said that scientists need to be creative because big breakthroughs thread the needle between what is possible and what is improbable. To implore his fellow scientists, Feynman suggested they have “imagination in a straitjacket.”

The idea is to consider opportunity costs, possibilities, non-linearities, hypotheticals, different points-of-view all while giving zero fucks about what others thoughts AND doing that within the confines of a discipline. Let’s not imagine we can send people to the moon without considering physics. Let’s not imagine we can sell people cars without considering psychology. 

To play with physics, as Feynman put it, is often helped by distance. Being too close in a relationship, or in time, or in space creates a mental gravitational field where we get sucked into the center of mass of that one idea—which may be right but we want to explore before camping out.

To be more like Holmes, we can remember that the game is afoot.