We have different ways of knowing, and we have different patterns of forgetting. Facts and details that we don’t use regularly fade, distort or disappear altogether. Concepts, patterns and generalized principles remain as an underlying skeletal structure. Where we value factual knowing over conceptual reasoning, though, we can call into question what we know and what we don’t. That is particularly challenging when we start making sense of emerging trends and new technologies that seem impenetrable, obscure and yet unnervingly popular and hyped. It can feel like you are missing something fundamental. The reality is that it is the fundamentals that are often missing instead.
We are cognitively lazy. We don’t pay attention to the details unless something triggers us to. That’s not a fault; it’s efficient engineering of our brains to manage energy and attention. We cruise on autopilot until something is important enough to focus our attention. This doesn’t just influence how we experience our cognitive biases in seeing the world, though. It also profoundly shapes how we experience and interact with those around us. And how we should interact when things really matter.
I didn’t intend to write this article. I didn’t even want to write this article. But I didn’t want to leave last week’s article as the end to the series that I’ve been working on. There was somewhat more to be said, and in particular some specifics to be explored about tools. To be clear, I endorse none of the tools that I mention. But I’m curious about several of them.
One of the essential challenges in successfully facilitating remote meetings is that—to put not too fine a point on it—they are online. Our normal meeting software is great for seeing and hearing the other person—as long as they don’t forget to unmute themselves—but for the most part that is all we get. If we want a different level of interaction, we need to think differently about what engagement looks like. The good news is that there are an enormous number of options with which to do exactly that.
Over a period of weeks, I’ve been deconstructing and exploring how we meet and make strategic decisions. Given our current pandemic reality, strategic retreats are neither possible nor desirable. My question was how they can be replicated online, and—for extra bonus points—whether it was possible for those meetings to be more effective than what we are more traditionally used to. I was cautiously optimistic at the outset. I’m now quite confident that it is actually possible.
We like to think of deciding as an act of deliberate intent. In actual fact, decisions often simply happen. They emerge and evolve, or arrive at a point where they are simply accepted. All appearances to the contrary, it can be difficult to point to when a decision was actually made, how it was arrived at and by whom. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are ways to improve not just the quality of decisions, but also clarity in the decision making process.