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Recap: Snapshots of the Mind with Gary Klein

By Tamara Parris | Reviewed by Gary WongCheckmark
Published: March 24, 2023
Key Takeaways

Recap of our discussion with Gary Klein on his book Snapshots of the Mind with our Meet the Author community members.

Every month, members of the Safeopedia community come together for an online members' book club to discuss important workplace health and safety topics, share their insights and thoughts, and support each other.

In our most recent session, we invited our member and Author Gary Klein to discuss his book, Snapshots of the Mind.

If you missed it, here's a recap of the session.


Meet the Author

Gary Klein, author of Snapshots of the Mind and the bestselling Sources of Power, is the cognitive psychologist who discovered how people actually make decisions, particularly under time pressure and uncertainty.

He is a research psychologist famous for pioneering in the field of naturalistic decision making. By studying experts such as firefighters in their natural environment, he discovered that laboratory models of decision making could not describe it under uncertainty.

Meet the Book

Snapshots of the Mind grows out of the Naturalistic Decision Making movement, which studies how decision makers handle uncertainty and complexity in high-stakes situations.

In the series of essays, Gary examines how people actually make decisions, particularly under time pressure and uncertainty in high-stakes situations. He debunks the idea that artificial intelligence will soon take over human decision making. Rather, machines that make us smarter will help expand our own expertise. His book shares a new take on topics such as confirmation bias, anomaly detection, intuition, anticipatory thinking, and perspective-taking. You will come away understanding the primary aspects of expert cognition: the mindsets, mental models, and perceptual sensitivity.

The Big Picture: Our Discussion Topics

Snapshots of the Mind is a collection of essays that cover various themes like artificial intelligence, expertise, heuristics, biases - and how all of these intersect with decision making. Bringing these topics together gave us insights into the way decisions are actually made in real-world scenario, like during workplace incidents and accidents.

Gary shared some of his insights on how people develop, build upon, and strengthen their decision-making skills. He stressed the need to avoid being critical when individuals don't understand something or make a mistake, or being dismissive and not explaining what options should be considered and why. We should not simply expect people to follow procedures, but encourage them be curious, share insights, and ask questions so they can think through problems, see the cognitive dimensions at play, and learn how to make better decisions.

We also looked at a story-sharing model for decision making, and how we can use stories to help us improve our decision-making abilities. Gary also recommends Shadow Boxing with tough scenarios to think through the situation and try to come up with the best way to respond to it.


Gary then left us with these key takeaways:

  1. Pay attention to cognition: look beyond what people do in a situation and see how people are thinking their way through it. What assumptions, beliefs, and mental models are they drawing on?
  2. Use this approach when working with experts in your workplace. Shift from a procedural mindset that is dismissive of experts to a curious mindset that asks why they do what they do, and what you can learn from it.

The Nitty Gritty: Contributions from Our Community Members

Meet the Author sessions are collaborative discussions. While our guest author and community co-host Gary Wong get the conversation going, our community members always share their insights, experiences, and perspectives.

Here are some of their contributions.

David Hurst got us to think about going up the ladder by asking a question about our theories of mind; in particular, how they mesh with a dual process bicameral theory of mind (having both the capacity to act as agents in the moment and to later act as analysts looking back at how the situation played out).

Tanya Hewitt asked about the use of video evidence, and how anything captured on smartphone video is typically treated as the truth, rather than one piece of evidence to be considered among others. Tanya highlighted this as an interesting change in the way we understand cognition.

Tom Osorio brought up the challenge of getting different people's insights, without getting hooked into simplistic or self-serving solutions. Gary suggested that it can be helpful to get a sense of the people in the room to in order to ascertain who might hijack the meeting versus who might not be quick to contribute to the discussion in front of others.

Watch the Session

Join Us for the Next One

On April 21, 2023, we will be welcoming Rosa Carillo to discuss her new book, Health and Safety Leadership Strategy: How Authentically Inclusive Leaders Inspire Employees to Achieve Extraordinary Results.

The purpose of this book is to awaken leaders to the unique opportunities now present in the areas typically delegated to Health and Safety. It is a strategy to utilize existing resources to fully develop and engage human potential to catapult business achievement.

Click here to register and join the conversation!


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Written by Tamara Parris

Profile Picture of Tamara Parris

Tamara Parris is the VP of Community and Business Development at Safeopedia, and owner of EHS Professionals Group on LinkedIn. Her passion is working with other EHS Professionals to collaborate in thought leadership, networking and connecting our industry peers to resources that will increase profitability and safety practices within their workplaces. Tamara has been in the Health and Safety field for over 20 years, her industry experiences include the Construction sector, CCTV and Security, and Commercial Retail industries.

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