Sheena S. Iyengar is a world expert on choice and decision-making. Her book The Art of Choosing received the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year 2010 award, and was ranked #3 on the Best Business and Investing Books of 2010. Her research is regularly cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Economist as well as in popular books, such as Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance. Dr. Iyengar has also appeared on television, including the Today Show, the Daily Show, and Fareed Zakaria’s GPS on CNN. Her TED Talks have collectively received almost four million views and her research continues to inform markets, businesses, and individuals around the world.

Dr. Iyengar is the inaugural S.T. Lee Professor of Business in the Management Division at Columbia Business School. Growing up in New York City as a blind Indian American and the daughter of immigrants, she began to look at the choices she and others had, and how to get the most from choice. She first started researching choice as an undergrad at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated with a B.S. in Economics. She received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Stanford University where her dissertation, “Choice and its Discontents,” received the Best Dissertation Award. Dr. Iyengar received the Presidential Early Career Award in 2002, and in 2011 and 2019, she was named a member of the Thinkers50, a global ranking of the top 50 management thinkers. She won the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Core Teaching from Columbia Business School in 2012 and was named one of the World’s Best B-School Professors by Poets and Quants. She has also given keynotes, and consulted for companies as wide ranging as Deloitte, Google, Bloomberg, Blizzard Entertainment, J.P. Morgan & Chase, and The North Face.

In a groundbreaking, new course called “Think Bigger,” Dr. Iyengar created a six step method for teaching people how to take advantage of lessons learned from neurological and cognitive science to put our minds to work when generating our best ideas. Her new book Think Bigger will be released in 2021. 

“Think Bigger: How to Innovate” is nominated for the Top 10 Best New management Books s on Thinkers 50.

An Author Talk with McKinsey & Company: “Why problem solving is the key to innovation.”

Published in Time Magazine: “AI Could Help Free Human Creativity”

Food for Thought

August 12, 2023

In July 2023, American union actors and writers joined together in a strike dubbed as “Actors vs. AI.” This underscored the role of artificial intelligence in the entertainment industry, a world where ChatGPT could place screenwriters and AI databases could replace actors.

Since 1987, I have listened to one voice more than any other voices combined. It’s the voice of Perfect Paul, a commercial speech synthesizer that predates the likes of Siri and ALEXA. Whether I’m grading papers, reading scientific articles, or even writing my own books, I use Perfect Paul in my day-to-day life.

However, despite the fact that I rely so heavily on Perfect Paul, I can assure you this: Nothing can replace the human voice. Nothing. If I am reading for pleasure, I listen to an audiobook narrated by a real person. If I want to know how my lecture will sound, I still need a human to read it back to me.

AI blossoms and grows at incredible rates, constantly inundating and infiltrating our lives. Yet, I want to highlight that, no matter how genuine or emotional that AI may sound, it simply cannot nor will not compare with human voice.

June 28, 2023

The Titan — At the heart of this disaster is the claim by Rush, the designer and owner, that regulation stifles innovation. But if you read carefully the comments of experts, “regulation” is not their top concern. They cite precise details of the elements Rush brought together to make his craft. They note how each element did not have a record of success, so they did not qualify to be part of the design. Rush put together elements he wanted, rather than elements that “worked.”

He fell into a common trap about innovation. You don’t just throw together things you think of. You must use elements that have worked before in a different but related situation. That’s a very high standard, and it explains why most innovations fail. Successful innovation comes from new combinations of elements that work — a method I call Think Bigger. The complete combination is greater than the sum of the parts — but only if those parts worked before.

The regulators of deep-sea vessels have blessed many, many innovations over the past half-century, using what we recognize as a Think Bigger standard. Rush’s craft would have failed inspection, not from conservatism of the regulators, but because they have the right method of fostering innovation. They know how to Think Bigger. Rush, fatally, did not.