Sunday, 19 October 2014

Let's stop being stupid

Management books and conferences are all about being smarter, faster, cleverer. We want to be better by doing something more. The monkey in our minds loves this: new tool, new idea, new distraction... new way to avoid self-reflexion. Any shiny new thing keeps the ego safe from looking at mishaps, miscalculations, misunderstandings, misconceptions.

Few management conferences are about being wiser, thinking deeper, feeling kinder. Yet, there are far much greater gains to find by stopping being stupid than by seeking to be smarter. Systems behavior clearly show than reinforcing positive feedback quickly leads to burnout - removing limits to growth is sustainable.

Why? Because every time we're being clever, we make a bet on what's going to happen next and, well, if we had a crystal ball we'd be better off with betting at the races. On the other hand, in reflecting on what we do wrong, we have a wealth of history, data, cases to guide us. Stopping to do stupid things is a far safer way to get ahead.

But it's scary. It means self-examination, and confronting the fact that we do goof off and balls up. It means having enough self-confidences to admit slip-ups and outright being wrong. It means beating the brain hard-wired design of cognitive dissonance (mistakes were made... but not by me) and identity consistency. In other words, it means practice. Practice with problem finding, problem facing, problem framing and problem solving. Practice in solving problems with others, to boost self-confidence and confidence in our colleagues, and progressively grow confident in the fact that we will know how to face our challenges together.

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