We have a tendency to be in love with our models, frameworks and methodologies. As I’ve written about before, obsessing about our processes and structures too much—or reinforcing them too formally—is never a good strategy. Nonetheless, we need some structure to work with and guide us in making sense of the world. A realization came to me while thinking about one particular model this week, that highlighted a particular tension. The more we know and apply our models, the less likely they are to bring about new ways of thinking. That creates a bit of a problem to solve.
Getting to good decisions is a product of identifying good options. And while groups will tell you that they value good decisions, their behaviour often exhibits a rush towards making fast decisions. There are several cognitive biases that influence this, and these in turn contribute to some significant barriers in generating good options. Doing that requires thinking about accordions and how they work.
Knowing why we are doing something is inarguably important. Being able to define what one successfully looks like is fundamental and critical. This is particularly true when we are the ones that are guiding development of the deliverable, and there is a creative component to what needs to be produced. While we would like to say that we know what successful completion looks like, there are many factors that can create roadblocks for us. Most of which exist in our own perceptions.
Process is important. It provides useful and relevant guidance on how to get things done. And yet process can also be a crutch, particularly when we presume the real world works exactly as the process prescribes. For process to be useful, then, we need to rethink how we relate to process.
We’ve all been challenged by that one person in the meeting who opposes everything, simply for the sake of opposing. Or because they’re afraid. Or because they just like to argue. The role of the devil’s advocate is challenged. It’s also challenging. But under the right circumstances, it can be hugely helpful.
Are we having fun yet? This question often conceals a great deal of derision. It gets asked most when things are stressful and challenging. But it’s actually a great question. Exploring why we should embrace play and fun when the going gets really serious.