I wish all my readers a very healthy and lucky 2011 and hope for a year full of inspiring meetings – virtual or real-time.
We seek evidence to confirm preconceived notions, even ambiguous evidence we interpret in favor of our ideas, this is what psychologist call the “confirmation bias”. Psychological experiments also found that we consider people who succeed more valuable, admirable than people who do not and other theories and experiments argue that we feel more comfortable and happy when we see patterns in events, as opposed to having to undergo than as completely random. Yet a lot of things that happen around us and with us are quite random, more random that we are comfortable to see. And then the “butterfly effect” which says that very small changes (the flutter of the wings of a butterfly) can have enormous effects. Success, so much valued can be derived from random chance and very much based on biases instead of intrinsic value. And so is failure.
Leonard Mlodinov’s book “The Drunkard’s Walk – How Randomness Rules our Lives” is a great read for anyone interested in diversity and change in organizations. Learning from best practices is not one of his recommended strategies: that success may have been quite random and been the result of a drunkards walk: the path molecules follow in space, incessantly bumping and being bumped. Eager as we are to see patterns we look at the best practice to see how they can be replicated, but randomness cannot be replicated. Mlodinov questions learning from past performance and recommends we focus on our ability to react to events and not to rely on our ability to predict them. Altogether an interesting book to read.
Over the past year I have blogged infrequently and the last few months I have read mostly quite boring documents. So my new year’s resolution will be to blog and read more, to trust and respond to chance and hope for a lucky 2011 and lots of inspiring people and reads. Which I also wish to anyone who reads this.