The Surprise in the Unknown

Today is a good day. The sun is shining, the birds are sweetly singing their songs of freedom and everything seems right in the world. Then suddenly, BANG, your whole world gets turned upside. Things haven’t quite turned out as you had planned.

“But how is this possible if all the indicators seemed to confirm my happy projections?”

The bombardment of information we are subjected to on a daily basis makes it impossible to absorb everything, forcing us to be become selective as to what we read and assimilate. The problem is that we tend to read that which makes sense to us, and we forget or simply ignore that which doesn’t. But why do we do this? Psychologists attribute it to a kind of cognitive shortcut called ‘Confirmation Bias’ where the brain filters through information that supports our belief systems and blocks out anything that contradicts them. Even the algorithms behind what we see on our Facebook and Twitter feeds run on the same principals; they show us what we like, what we are likely to engage with and hide the rest. We instinctively look for facts to confirm what we already believe and we omit the facts that don’t, the facts which would actually be a lot more helpful for us in enabling us to distinguish the woods from the trees.

Why, when we see things that don’t support our predetermined beliefs, do we feel them almost as offensive and as personal betrayals against us? Two primordial reasons:

1) With every day that passes on this earth, we as humans look for more and more reference points from which to anchor ourselves; helping us find meaning and to feel a part of something. When these reference points crumble away, failing to explain reality and revealing themselves to be false, we feel betrayed and stupid – anyone who has ever fallen foul to a conman or scam will know the feeling.

2) When we share information or vocalize certain opinions about the world, what we are actually doing is constructing and projecting an image of ourselves before the world, our own “brand equity” of sorts. When these views are exposed as false, or things transpire which actively contradict our viewpoint, then it is the credibility our very identity, of who we are as people, that comes under scrutiny as well. Nothing hurts more than a blow to our pride.

So how do we face this egomaniacal sense of self, inherent to us all? Well, a good place to start is to open ourselves up to the unknown. To open our hearts, minds, arms and eyes to those who do not think like us, to those who we feel we have nothing to gain from and with whom we have nothing in common. To go beyond our daily routine, to leave the big cities and turn instead towards the rural and underdeveloped (or whatever other environment is alien to us); and above all else, to make sure we are open to listening to the answers that we don’t want to hear when we do so.

We could just do it ourselves through introspective reflection, forcing our eyes inwardly to focus in on that which we don’t want to see.

However, far easier an exercise, is to involve other people, but not in a fishing trip to the compliment-pond kind of way; but rather, by forcing them to be as critical as possible.

All of this will allow us to produce diverse strategic scenarios. It is not enough to focus on actions for what we thing is coming but for alternative scenarios that require the attention of our work teams.
Content by High Speed Solutions. High Speed Solutions is the Strategic Consulting area of De la Riva Group.


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