The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Chasing an answer

The desire for certainty triggers makes it seem normal to need to have answers.

And plenty of situations will contribute to the sense that answers are important.

Take for example decision making, it is an important task leaders have to engage in. They frame the work that needs to be done. But they also take care of the need for certainty in the team.

Sensemaking is another situation in which people Instinctively seek to have an answer. If they can’t find it, they’ll figure it out. And if they can’t figure it out, they’ll imagine it. Much of this is an unconscious use of our bias. That’s what they are for, shortcuts to sensemaking.

The more certainty is sought, the more probable it becomes that people will seek to come to an answer quickly. Another side of the spectrum is the desire to have the right answer, leading to either tenacity in desiring the answer or procrastination in trying to grasp all the details.

In his book “Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide” John Cleese has an astonishing suggestion. He’s pointing at the possibility that the unconscious might have to finish the work and that better ideas and useful information might pop up in the process. His suggestion thus is to start by fixing a deadline by which the decision must be presented. Once this is clear he suggests doing the work and coming to a conclusion. However, instead of publishing the decision immediately, he suggests holding it loosely until the deadline. Whatever comes up between having come to a conclusion and the deadline might be of use and thus should be used.

It serves against the desire for immediate action and allows the conclusion to mature.

That is, to know that in one’s desire for a quick answer one hasn’t chased the answer away.


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