Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lack of speed kills.

If you think about how we have evolved from the primordial goo into living, breathing, walking, thinking human beings, our success as a species has depended our ability to quickly decide how to face and respond to threats.

Yet when it comes to "professional" decisions we put aside our instincts. We are trained and told we must abide by something called "process." The process which will yield, after many hours and much meandering, a decision.

I have always been cursed with having dual core processors in my cerebellum. They spin, I like to think, at high speeds and thus run through a million-and-one if-then propositions. That's how I make decisions.

What I've noticed through the years is that "process" delivers success no more often than instinct. In fact, the opposite usually results. Process entails sundry opinions and the accommodations that go along with those opinions. What's more, all this takes time and a ton of money.

In short, as an industry we perseverate over decisions. Doing so is costly. Doesn't yield the desired results. And makes the work worse.

But we keep on doing it.

It keeps so many of us employed.


Per Robert Öhlin said...

Spot on, George. This made me think of a book I just finished reading. The titel of the book is ”Obliquity”, and is written by economist John Kay. His idea flies in the face of corporate practice and process thinking.

Kay claims that goals are best achieved not directly, but indirectly. And this is relevant not only in business, but in all areas of life.

The most profitable companies are not the most aggressive profit-chasers. The wealthiest men and women are not the most materialistic. And the happiest people do not pursue happiness in itself. The goals are mostly reached as a spin off from something else: meaning.

Kay leans toward six creative attitudes towards problem solving and life in general.

”Muddling through”. By this he stresses the importance of approaching a dilemma in a non-rational, intuitive way but at the same time according to some kind of plan. As I wrote in one my book ”Let's get gorgeous”: fix your eyes to the top (a higher purpose) and follow your instincts like a curious fool. In a zig-zag way. Like a child wandering about: devoted and wide-eyed, disrespectful, foolhardy and reinvestigative.

Pluralism. In the business world people tend to think that there is only one solution to a problem. This is wrong, there are more than one answer to a problem.

Interaction. The outcome has more to do with the question ˝Why?” than ”What?”. Problem is, in a process-obsessed world the former is much harder to find an answer to than the latter.

Incompleteness. We like to think that we know enough about the nature of our problem. But we rarely do.

Abstraction. Models are always imperfect descriptions of reality. And should therefore be handled with suspicion.

Complexity. The world is far too complex to understand and manage.

Kay is an economist who understand the creative mind. I highly recommend his book.

Tore Claesson said...

and some unemployed.