Whether it is about the individual decision that you took pertaining to some space of your life or whether it is the collective decision of an “empowered” group at work or in the society to vote for that project or that politician- each of these decisions sooner or later come under intense scrutiny and often leave us wondering “why the hell did that even happen!” “What the f**k was anyone thinking”! Life is replete with instances like these and many more, but before you rush to think that this is about bad choices or bad decision making- well the whole focus is not on what choice was exercised but on the vital component, “the people” who manifested the choices the way they choose actions to help that happen! Join me here as we take a quick look to understand what really unfolds in this space and why wise people end up making screwed up choices either for themselves or for everyone around! So here we go!
The real problem with our new age is that the line between “being wise” and “seeming to be wise” is blurred and still worse is intertwined! You see, for some reason, we believe in belief’s which are absolutely stupid to begin with and it is belief’s like these which contribute to creating chaos around the real wise and the apparent wise! Given the paucity of time that each of us have at hand and the flood of distractions and inherent lack of focus (don’t forget we are humans, not a jaguar or a puma to excel at focus) often end up up compelling people to click that button or say that “YES” or “NO” without applying any methodical thought or rationalized thinking! The result, well yes, actions and decisions which are then either corrected, repealed or altered in the times ahead at a huge cost of wasted human hours, lives and needless to say money! Sounds familiar? Well, yes this is how governments work- they work on what I call as “Allowable risk of dumbness over inaction” . In this space, when enough information is not available or is available and tends to be beyond comprehension of the holder of that data- the simple choice often made by people on the chair is- what is the loss for doing nothing and what is the loss for doing something with what I know- based on which option is more favorable the button is pushed through and this is why much of humanity and societies around the world end up seeing the same road being dug up a thousand time and redone that many time, all the while solving nothing!
If you thought, that this was limited to only the world of governments, well think again! The hyped world of corporate czars is no different! Gone are the days when leaders within the corporate corridors had time, wisdom and the ability to exercise a choice when it came to take action on a decision made- stakes for failure were high then and rewards for success too were great. What we witness now is, the same hurry to send that mail, say “YES” to a client and then struggle all through to provide what as agreed to! Whether it is the struggle of getting the right people to work (because even gate-keepers begin to make choices based on what the budget is, rather what is required) or getting the right product or service launched, or the right market understood well, choose any facet of the corporate world, here too you will witness a situation where day in and day out leaders in a hurry are more and more choosing between what is on the table and choosing in the now- never realizing how that will dent their tomorrow- for they know very well, tomorrow they are not here to sort out that mess! So now the million dollar question, why do we do this to begin with and what is that we can do and not to manage this?
One unmistakable cause that leads to this inducement of dumbness is the “Rush” factor, wanting to complete and do everything with an intent to “finish it off”, “off my table” rather than wanting to complete it in the essence of “it has been done the right way” or “it has been done to the best of my ability in the context it was presented”! Alongside this we have a world replete with examples where incompetence has been a measure to calibrate or trim leadership and as this happens, needles to say there is considerable chaos and ambiguity in proportion to the acquired level of incompetence. So, when you see wise people end up doing dumb things, it is almost always a factor of either of these two factors or a combination of them.
When it comes to managing, if not being able to completely avoid this issue, one approach that always works is to have checks and balances and ensure that there are always more than one entity to take a major call! Sure enough, this sets up the space whether it be political or corporate for the fallacy of groupthink, but if we end up having “groupthink” going wrong, then you can be pretty sure that the matter really is deep rooted and emerges from the society itself! In those scenarios then, corrective measures are more about community re-wiring and re-building. Group Think and Collective Decision making is perhaps the only way to stall the “rush” and “do away with” approach than over taxed, dis-engaged people may often deploy either owing to compulsions either personal or systemic! You may want to argue, that always group think is not possible, whatever would happen to individual genius and so on and so forth, well the answer to that resides in the question itself, genius never take the “rush” or “do away with” approach to begin with and secondly as far as secrecy parameters of business related collective decision making are concerned, these can be smartly managed by timing and sharing elements of content on a need-to-know basis, which can be then analyzed holistically to arrive are a more well-informed decision- which rides on a foundation of inputs form a group- which the group may or may not be aware of!
So, in a way when wise people do end up doing dumb things/decisions it’s almost always a story of the compelling contexts around them and when those get amplified by their intrinsic dispositions that alteration goes on to create more skewed approaches/attitudes that limit the application of “ability to rationalize and think” resulting in poor or ill-informed decisions which in one or the other way come back to bite!
The human mind is very potent at determining patterns of action/ inaction and those instances of half-thinking which do not get one killed and assimilate them as allowable patterns of thinking, which further goes on to compound problems! This is why many a times, when you find people doing dumb things, you will almost always find them soaked into it and enjoying it like nothing else!
I leave your with these for now, urging you to reflect on the time when you unwittingly contributed to or became a part of this un-serving space of dumb decision making and what did you do to emerge out- for that is your master-key to steer clear from any such future episodes and always remember , great things take time and group think when done right can help more than the harm it can cause when implemented with flaws!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one, until then stay wise and stay safe!