By Jeanette Garretty, Robertson Stephens Advisors
So much has been written about Brexit that anything additional probably serves no purpose
other than to make the wall of noise louder, more gaudy, more obnoxious. Whatever the voting
result, post mortems will be equally abundant and just as confusing, only somewhat more so
in the case of a win by the “Leave” campaign, as this is really a jump into the great unknown.
Much of what I have been watching and reading makes me think of Daniel Kahneman, the
brilliant author of the 2011 book Thinking Fast and Slow. One of the key premises of
Kahneman’s work is that the human brain utilizes two distinctly different modes of thought,
emanating from different parts of the brain. The System 1 mode is fast, emotional and given
to relying on “rules of thumb” and “gut reaction.” The System 2 mode is more careful,
thoughtful, analytical and slow. System 1 thinking requires less expenditure of energy and
therefore, we being rational people, will be favored over the more energy intensive System 2
thinking. And, oh, by the way, when we “multi-task” we are not running two (or three or four)
parallel processing systems in our brain but rather we are shifting frantically back and forth
between System 1 thinking and System 2 thinking. No wonder that multi-tasking is more
difficult to execute when we are tired, or over extended periods of time.