Guest AuthorPavan Soni

Inflexion Point, March 2020

By | Dr Pavan Soni | IIM-B Innovation Evangelist

Welcome back to Inflexion Point, your monthly from the spheres of innovation, creativity, and business. In this edition, I take you through how reading literary fiction makes you a better problem solver, the upside of Coronavirus, how babies are pre-wired to perceive the world, the way Google checks its candidates on emotional intelligence, and what successful women leaders have in common. 
Do read at leisure and share as you see fit. 

Business leaders and managers alike understand the necessity of reading and often draw inspirations from the likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk on how to read a lot, retain and apply. However, most of the suggested readings are non-fiction. There is an implicit assumption that reading fiction doesn’t lend much to your success at work. Is that true? Research offers that reading literary fiction can significantly enhance your empathy, decision making abilities, and comfort with ambiguity. As against non-fiction, literary fiction doesn’t offer you a binary world view, which is closer to reality and you learn to see life in its true complexity. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
We are finally here — a news item is impacting our daily lives, much as we saw in science fictions. Whether your health is getting impacted (yet) or not, your finances are certainly taking a hit, regardless of your profession. Is there any upside to this scare? For one, a lot more children in China are taking up online education, and this trend would spread much like the other scary export from China. Apps and technologies, right from tracking the spread of the virus to getting a low-cost self-diagnosis done, have come up in such a short time, and these technologies would offer help elsewhere as well. There is a whole new level of urgency in tracking fake news, profiling the news makers, and regulating the spread, by adopting AI. Seriously, it’s too big a crisis to not learn from. (Source: MIT Tech Review)
Do we learn to recognize faces or are we born with this ability? Scientists say, it’s both — we are born with a scaffolding of neuro circuitry that enables us to then build on as we see more faces and scenes and learn to recognize them. Several images of rsfMRI reveals that new-borns have brain regions, which are responsible for facial recognition, already pre-formed, or in a way, we are born with biases. Brain connectivity precedes the development of specific brain functions, and that’s what makes human brain special. (Source: Scientific American)
With an acceptance rate of about 0.2 percent (as against 5.2% at Harvard), Google remains as one of the most choosy employers of our times. Apart from one’s technical competence, the company looks for the Googleyness factors, comprising of an ability to thrive in ambiguity, valuing feedback, an ability to challenge the status quo, putting the users first, doing the right thing, and caring about the team. As for checking somebody on the EI, the company focuses at the resume and interview and looks for signs of authenticity, storytelling, and acts of inclusion. (Source: Fast Company)  
The International Women’s Day offers us a good reason to recognize, appreciate, celebrate and protect one of the most important forms of diversity around us — gender. Do women leaders think very differently from male leaders? Seems to be the case. A distillation of characteristic traits of 15 women leaders (mostly US) leads to the following three: listening, curiosity, and grit. Do we all benefit from such traits? We certainly do, especially in an era where the quality of your life squarely depends on the quality of your decisions. (Source: Fortune) 
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