How Poor Planning and Being Impulsive Can Lead to Big Wins In Life

I find that there are several takeaway points in this post that apply to working in digital humanities.

  • Conscientiousness stifles creativity.
  • Jump in and fail immediately.
  • Prototype and test.  Prototype and test.
  • Do not be afraid of failure.
  • Conscientiousness is ‘an inherently conservative strategy.’
  • Failing ‘right’ involves: little bets, giving your ideas time, and hiding from the boss.



I’ve posted a ton of research about how conscientiousness may be the most important personality trait out there.

What’s conscientiousness? Having your act together. Neat and tidy. Organized and on time.

Success, health, happy marriages – they’re all tied to it.

Which can be really depressing because, frankly, I’m not all that conscientious.

But this begs the question: are there benefits to not being conscientious?

Yes, as a matter of fact, there are.

My Spaghetti Abilities Are Unstoppable

Peter Skillman created a design exercise called “The Spaghetti Problem.”


Groups get 20 pieces of spaghetti, tape, some string and a marshmallow.

The group that creates the tallest freestanding structure that will support the marshmallow’s weight within 18 minutes, wins.

He tested groups of engineers, managers, MBA students, etc.

Did tons of planning help? Nope.

Really thinking things through provide an advantage? Nope.

You know who outperformed everyone?


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