The 2020s have already started as the fastest, deepest, most disruptive decade in history. Leaders and their teams are facing a constantly changing finish line while expectations and targets are only growing. COVID was just a foreshadow of the cracks in the system and the huge gap in personal readiness to deal with this new now.
This future will not be easy. Humans like to live and work in an environment they understand, influence, and control. They need the feeling that their actions, efforts, and energy expenditures make an impact. In order to do this, our brain tends to simplify things and selectively ignore signals that don’t fit in our known picture. We have to do this to help make sense of the world. Biases (the often detrimental shortcuts in our thought processing) are a perfect example of this.
In a world of hyper-change, like it or not, the game of business is about pivot and adapt or become obsolete and die. The question is: how can you increase your personal readiness and create an advantage (for you personally, for your team, and for your customers)? At TIGNUM, we know that in order to make sense of complex issues, we need high levels of mental agility. In their insightful book, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner outline that futuring is not about linear predictions. The key is to consider other points of view in the process of refining yours. “Beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be protected.”
That means the more complicated and complex topics are, the wider you need to scan sources, and the deeper you need to go in challenging your biases. Diving into a variety of resources, seeking new signals, digesting different types of information, challenging your own biases, and processing different viewpoints takes energy. Here lies the biggest dilemma of the new now - how can you do all of this when you’re sitting at the starting line already exhausted and overwhelmed?
At TIGNUM, we have seen that our highest performing clients make sense-making a daily intentional practice. They start their day with habits and strategies to prepare for and energize for the day. They look for new signals, nurture their curiosity, explore contrarian views, and intentionally practice asking better questions. What are your daily sources? Are they the right ones? Do you get the full picture? What are other perspectives?
For me personally, I found this past year full of great examples of where I needed to be a better sense-maker. The pandemic was a highly complex and emotional topic full of different scientific views, different political responses, different financial consequences, and greatly different media coverage. I found it difficult to get my arms around the intertwined issues and to not fall into the trap of herd opinion. I sometimes found myself confused, frustrated, emotionally and cognitively fatigued, and even anxious.
So what was the answer? I doubled down on my cognitive and emotional recovery strategies, made sure my Sustainable Human Performance strategies were in place, and then started challenging media, political, scientific, and personal biases. I actively looked for varying opinions and missed facts (often in plain view from sources like Harvard and Stanford), and I created sense-making times where I could better understand what was happening. I was energized by creating my own independent analysis and opinion, and by accepting what was actually in my control.
The future now will offer many more topics that will challenge our sense-making. From climate change, E-mobility, globalization, hybrid work, democracy, election systems, capital markets, digital currencies, and AI explosion. All of them will impact you, your business, your clients, and your teams. Are you ready to make sense out of it all, or are you sitting at the starting line already exhausted and overwhelmed?
It’s not going to get easier, but it is exciting. The future is ripe with opportunities if we pivot our thinking. Huge opportunities are ahead, but not if we remain in the comfort zone of our old habits and biases. What helped us to make sense in the past might not help us in the new now and in the future.
As always, we’d love to hear what you think.