Articles: Mind

Beyond average thinking

Data science is changing global and local business. One might think that immense data sets and expensive tools are required to make sense of this increasingly complex world, but that’s not true. Before we even look at data sets, we can all cultivate better data sense. To that end, I’d encourage us all to look at one common kind of data with suspicion: the average. We all use averages on daily basis— e.g., when we split a…

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It’s (not) complicated

We all understand simple mechanical systems like pulleys. Complex systems, like rain forests, however, work differently. They exhibit unique characteristics, including modularity, homeostasis, self-organization, resilience, emergence, non-linearity, inter-dependence with other complex systems, and collapse. In work and life, we encounter complex systems every day. They include: Human brains Human bodies Human relationships Organizational cultures Financial markets Digital media ecosystems Competitive business environments Global climate One sure-fire way to make big mistakes is to expect complex systems to behave like simple ones. You’ll…

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Unstorytelling

Our default way of experiencing the world is through stories. Whether they come from the latest Good Wife episode, the companies we purchase from, or the theater of our minds, stories are safe-to-consume simulations about how things were, are, will be, or could be. I love stories, and they can do many good things: They entertain us. They help us contemplate what we would do in unfamiliar situations. They help us act. They make abstract concepts relatable and…

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Navigating through chaos

We all get overwhelmed sometimes. Our stories, resources, and energy can be insufficient to accommodate a new reality. We become disorganized, inefficient. Like any complex system, we enter a chaos state. This is an ever-present possibility for even the most enlightened or skilled individual. In a chaos state, we often find ourselves clinging to old ideas, to losses, to hopes for the future. We try to run the old program, even though the operating system has changed. Sometimes reality will shift back to…

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Climb the ladder

There’s a classic tool from learning psychology that I sometimes use with clients. It’s called the ladder of learning. This model says that whenever we learn a new skill, we always go through four steps: Unconscious incompetence: You are blissfully unaware that you are bad at something. You feel strongly in synch with your environment and confident in your abilities. This feels wonderful, but by the same token, you aren’t learning anything. Conscious incompetence: New information begins to intrude on your awareness, or…

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