178: The Efficiency Paradox - Interview with Edward Tenner • My Quest for the Best

178: The Efficiency Paradox – Interview with Edward Tenner

Scholar of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation

Bill Ringle and Edward Tenner discuss the “Efficiency Paradox” and how it impacts business owners in practical ways.

Key points that you’ll learn from this interview:

  • The danger with relying too much on automated resume scans.
  • What to watch out for with the “tyranny of metrics” and how to counter it.
  • What false positives distort in medical tests and procedures.
  • How to recognize when efficiency has been pushed too far and what to do to protect your interests.

Interview Insights

Click to Read the Show Notes

2:18 How Edwards elementary school librarians socialized him into the love of books and the love of reading.

2:53 “I’m really an opinion writer and an interpreter.”

3:28 “Once people understand the historical background they have more confidence in dealing with the present.”

5:09 “You can think of this as a continuous R&D Laboratory.”

5:49 “The point of the book is that too much focus on short-term efficiency can make us less efficient in the long run.”


6:20 The art of inspired inefficiency

8:21 “I think too much reliance on Amazon means it’s very easy for someone to get into a groove, to have lots of things recommended that are sort of like what they had before.”

11:07 The importance of having a diversity of skills and mentalities in the workplace. 

11:37 The concept of peripheral vision, and the importance of creating opportunities for resourceful people.

13:13 “Sometimes if you’re focusing too much on the algorithm, you’re overlooking the opportunities for creative change.”

16:23 How to be intentional when using search engines.

17:12 “Find a well-established site and form a relationship with it.”

19:19 “When you’re evaluating anything based on metrics, it really pays to see what kinds of compromise might have been taken.”

20:49 “There are a lot of problems in the feedback of medical efficiency.”

23:49 “The most important thing for me in medicine is to be sure that the style of the doctor that you’re working with is a style you are comfortable with.”

Expert Bio

Edward Tenner is a distinguished scholar of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and a visiting scholar in the Rutgers University Department of History. He was a visiting lecturer in the Humanities Council at Princeton and has held visiting research positions at the Institute for Advanced Study and the University of Pennsylvania.
His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Wilson Quarterly, and Forbes.com. He has given talks for many organizations, including Microsoft, AT&T, the National Summit on White Collar Crime, the Smithsonian Associates, and TED.
His book, Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences, written in part with a Guggenheim Fellowship, has been translated into German, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, and Czech.

For more information, visit Edward Tenner’s website.

Contact Info for Edward Tenner

Web address: http://www.edwardtenner.com/ and you can contact Edward Tenner regarding a speaking engagement via Leigh Speakers.

Travels from: Plainsboro, NJ

Phone: (609) 273-0051

Contact:

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Resources Mentioned by Edward Tenner: