Looking forward

I had this vague idea that everything after my first memory is consciously retrievable. Of course that’s not true. There must be plenty more I don’t remember than I do.  So then I worried that I’d lost a part of me.

Perhaps that’s the reason why we record so much stuff, particularly now the technology in our pocket makes it easy. To remind ourselves.

So let’s imagine that it were possible to recall (or record) everything. Would that be a good thing? Well, perhaps not the painful stuff.

OK, so how about if we edited out the painful stuff and remembered just the good experiences? But then we’d have an unbalanced and unrealistic perception of life. It may be that we do subconsciously attempt to erase unpleasant experiences already.

In any case, even if we do have the capacity to remember everything, we simply don’t have the time to spend going over it all again, let alone going over other people’s memories. It would be like an interminable holiday slideshow!

So do we need to worry that “forgotten” memories are lost? Probably not, if they are accumulated in our unconscious, adding to who we are.

That seems quite reassuring. More so if you accept the idea of collective unconscious: that in some small way, all our memories are brought together and carried forward through generations.

On that basis I’m going to focus even more on looking forward, and not get too panicked if I didn’t shoot off 1,000GB of photos and videos at every event!

To finish with, here’s an incredible and humbling thought: the “umwelt” – mentioned in a recent debate about the power of the unconscious mind. A quote from David Eagleman:

“We don’t have a strong grasp of what reality “out there” even is, because we detect such an unbearably small slice of it. That small slice is called the umwelt.

…the electromagnetic spectrum visible to us is less than a ten-trillionth of it. Our sensorium is enough to get by in our ecosystem, but no better.”


Inside out: values, vision, strategy

It’s the start of a new financial year. Time for a new business plan, people want to know what’s in store, what’s the “new vision”… So where to start?

“Customer focus”, “Outcomes”, “Long term strategy”, “Big picture”, “Results”…

Obvious, right?

Well.. I’m not so sure. I think there’s at least a couple of problems with starting at the end and working back.

To begin with, I don’t know that we can do the best job for our customers if we’re not in the right frame of mind, feeling good and thinking positively.

The other thing is future uncertainty. How can you know today what the right place, time or cost will be?

Here’s a bit more on those two…

1) If things aren’t right at home, your customers won’t make it better – It seems to me that things become easier when your own house is in order. If you’re not happy about something before you get to work, chances are it’ll impact your work. So taking it right back to basics is, in my opinion, the starting point. One of my favourite takeways from “The Art of Happiness at Work” is Dr Wrzesniewski’s interviewee comment:

My job can’t make me feel better, I have to take care of that.

Fast forward a few steps to work. Does it make sense to embark on lots of customer engagement before the team is happy? Maybe not, but I wonder how many organisations spend more time, money and energy doing customer focus exercises than they do focusing on their own staff.

2) Even Nostradamus got it wrong – So why do organisations think they’ll be any different?  I can’t be certain what’s going to happen tomorrow. Predicting the price of petrol next year? I wouldn’t bet on it. Nonetheless, business plans are inevitably sprinkled with guesswork and wishful thinking. 

Traditional thinking assumes that in order to stand a good chance of arriving in the right place, at the right time, at the right cost you must have a clearly defined roadmap to get there. History is littered with failed attempts to predict the future as long-term plans change shape, miss their targets or simply aren’t delivered. And the ones that do meet their targets? ..have contingency built in to such a level that the truth is, they were always adaptive.

So wouldn’t it be more realistic (and effective) to adopt an ‘adaptive vision’ that responds to circumstances as they evolve?

Here’s a definition of “adaptive vision” from Jon Husband + Luis Suarez

“An adaptive vision is one that can change and adapt as context and landscape shifts, without losing the fundamental touchstone, or your core values”

I tend to identify “values” more as internal and “vision” more as external. On that basis, values ought to be less prone to change because there are less variables.  And if “strategy” is the route to a vision then, there must be infinite strategic possibilities.

If you can agree collective values and accept an adaptive vision, a strategy will emerge.

The questions that remain are: what’s going to make you happy? …what’s going to make the team happy? And if you can’t predict the future with certainty, but you can commit to values, what values?

Here’s a few suggestions that spring to mind: 

Inside out.