First-order thinking is fast and easy.It happens when we look for something that only solves the immediate problem without considering the consequences. For example, you can think of this as I’m hungry so let’s eat a chocolate bar.
Second-order thinking is more deliberate. It is thinking in terms of interactions and time, understanding that despite our intentions our interventions often cause harm. Second order thinkers ask themselves the question “And then what?”
This means thinking about the consequences of repeatedly eating a chocolate bar when you are hungry and using that to inform your decision. If you do this you’re more likely to eat something healthy.
First-order thinking looks similar. Everyone reaches the same conclusions. This is where things get interesting. The road to out-thinking people can’t come from first-order thinking. It must come from second-order thinking. Extraordinary performance comes from seeing things that other people can’t see.