I’ve been reading the book “Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Ways We Create Insights.” Gary Klein goes through a variety of approaches that people use to create better models of understanding. I started reading it to help me be more insightful, but it occurred to me about halfway in that I could use it to help others “connect the dots.”
It is well known that a great of learning something is to teach it to someone else. Doing so forces you to notice your thinking pattern and helps you discover any errors in it. While reading guides or trusting others’ insights are useful, if you follow them, you’re not learning why they are right. And it may be that they are not.
I now not only reflect on what I believe, I also think about how I can connect the dots for others. This highlights assumptions I had made in my logic that I was not aware of. Once I notice these I can ask myself, or others, if they are correct. This helps break the echo chamber I set up for myself. When having a dialog with people, this also helps me focus on what’s being said and loosens my presumption that I am correct.
The “curse of knowledge” is that we stop questioning our understanding which leads to not exploring new ways. We have a tendency to think that others who disagree with us are wrong. This is natural – it’s called being a human being. But just knowing this does little good. One must take action. Looking to see how others can understand by reflecting our thoughts is good action. Both they and you will learn something.
This often takes courage because we expose our thinking to possibly be wrong. Instead of identifying ourselves with our thinking we should identify ourselves as learners.
There is a trend for beginning Agilists to believe in the thinking of “gurus” to shortcut this process. This is unfortunate. Worse, it is even encouraged by many thought leaders who say you must follow for a while and use the martial arts metaphor of Shu Ha Ri until you understand. In martial arts, getting your head out of the way while you are trying to learn a physical skill makes sense. This is not a quick way to get to understanding – it also sets up echo chambers. In my mind, this is never a good thing in knowledge work. While it is true you may have to follow at times, it should never be the goal.
If you’re ready to think for yourself and not follow a guide or a person, I suggest you check out the free Amplio Community of Practice where we work to help people understand why Agile works and why many approaches to it are flawed. But most importantly, to think for themselves.