Overcoming the Amygdala Part 83


If you’ve been following this series, you may not yet quite have reached the point where your ‘brain has flipped’ and you are able to think differently. If you haven’t — and many people struggle with this — one of the things that’s probably happening is that you are still looking for errors around you, rather than departures.

This happens all the time around most people.

I used to work in a job where the big situation was trying to get enough customers for the organisation to become viable. That’s a huge situation, facing many businesses and groups everywhere. But my boss would come to work an hour or so after me and call me into her office and focus my attention on the fact that a few of the staff weren’t wearing their uniforms correctly. She would order me to go and sort that out as a priority, forcing my attention off the things that vitally needed handling onto one of the minor things which could have waited for another day.

Then the next day, I’d be ordered to address some other minor issue — something which she found irksome but which wasn’t centrally important at all — and the big problem of ‘not enough customers to sustain the organisation’ was put off again.

This may have happened to you. You want to zoom in on a particular task or area, but you’re obliged to do something else because it’s considered important by someone senior to you in the hierarchy of things. It’s maddening on many levels, but what’s behind it?

The other person is probably intent on correcting departures from their own fixed ideas of how something should be- which we could call 'errors'- rather than using the departures to find the underlying core situation which, if fixed, would sort out 90% of all the other problems.

Pursuing a few of the staff to make sure that they were wearing uniforms correctly is just fixing an eyesore — it does nothing at all to address the key issue of viability. The product would be ‘the place looks a little smarter’ which might have some tiny effect on the customers who came in, which might have had an even tinier effect on new people walking by in some way, if luck held. Meanwhile, the failed marketing campaign which was effectively selling the company out didn’t get spotted as the real reason for lack of growth — and the company continued to decline.

Yes, lack of all the staff wearing correct uniform properly was a departure — but it was only one departure in thousands. Instead of observing and recording departures until a primary source for most of them turned up, the result of just going around 'fixing departures' is almost completely useless and is often detrimental to the overall scene.

But this is what most organisations engage in. What’s worse, it’s what most individuals engage in.