Questioning our way into the Future

There’s a term for this, formally known as the “Dunning Kruger effect“, and more colloquially as “Mount Stupid”. It occurs at that point where our training convinces us we’re highly competent before we’ve had the experience to prove it. Looking at the press and social media, it seems to me like the summit of Mount Stupid is pretty crowded right now.

Despite the fact that there is no data on the future, any number of people, from politicians to business trumpet with real conviction what is going to happen and what we’re going to have to do. There’s probably any number of bodies of some sort being formed as I write to join the confidence of the Covid Recovery Group.

The reality is, we don’t know. Covid is but one element of an increasingly complex series of major social and economic disruptors that are interacting to set traps for the bold who favour action over thinking.

We need thinkers who do.

Thinkers ask great questions with no easy off the shelf answers, but they don’t procrastinate. They sense their way, evaluating as they go. They are careful, not cautious. All those who really make a difference put themselves at risk, but they understand the risk. One of the greatest strategists of the last hundred years, John Boyd developed an acronym – OODA – observe, orient, decide and act.

Go round that loop faster than those you’re up against, and you come out on top. He was a fighter pilot, so had real skin in the game. He researched all the way back to Sun Tzu, he brought in Quantum Physics, and he was never, ever certain. He ran a bet with those he trained at the fighter weapons school – if he couldn’t start from a position of vulnerability (with him in your sight)s and defeat you in forty seconds, he’d pay you forty dollars (and this was fifty years ago). he never lost. He was the least “gung ho” person you could imagine. He went back to school to do an aeronautics degree to understand the odds better. He set the scene for agile before the consultants had coined it.

We can learn from him right now. Our expertise, learned in what was ,is of limited use to us now. We need to ask great questions, notice what’s really going on, position ourselves and act. Time, after time, after time. Harness all our capabilities – intuition, emotion, and senses as well as intellect.

Follow the charismatic bold at your own risk.

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