Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Observation and Pattern Recognition

Observation allows us to see what is going on.

Pattern recognition helps us to make sense of what we are seeing.

Being busy is valued in today’s society. As a result, we forget to stop and watch what is happening around us.

Are we seeing what we expected to see? Does what you are seeing map to a pattern you have seen before? Is there a variable in this context that has not appeared in prior encounters with similar scenarios?

From my understanding, the readers of this blog have been around the block a few times. 30-60, college-educated, 10-30 years in their careers.  

At this stage, you have probably seen at least one cycle of trends. Centralization / Decentralization, Onsite/Remote, Hierarchical/Networked, Independent / Teamwork, or whatever polarity tends to dominate your field.

You have also seen what works and what doesn’t, and have likely formed strong opinions based on this experience. 

You have also formed clear mental models and frameworks.  Mastery is built on these models and frameworks. There’s significant value in these models and frameworks and, in most instances, they work well.  Models and frameworks help you make sense of what is going on around you and help you integrate new information as it comes in.

It may be worthwhile to get clear on the assumptions you are using when you observe what is going on around you. Are these assumptions accurate for this context?

Often, the answer is “yes,” but there are still surprises, and it’s good to be aware of the assumptions you are making when you are making judgments and decisions.

Is there something in the environment that you have not seen before that may impact the patterns you recognize?

Many of us have been trained to write off these anomalies.  How often has the thing you wrote off returned to bite you?  What does the pattern look like when you account for the anomaly?

I invite you to spend some time observing your surroundings, looking for patterns, and questioning your assumptions.

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