Don’t Be So Sure

Don’t Be So Sure

Don’t be so sure.

These were the words written on a sticker that was handed out to all KataCon5 (a conference about scientific thinking) attendees. The meaning behind the sticker?  We think we know more than we do. Our brains jump to conclusions and create facts where none exist. In Mike Rother’s (Toyota Kata author) keynote presentation, he said that scientific thinking is founded in the philosophy that all ideas must be tested.

When I talk about testing ideas or experimentation, you may be thinking about a grand inventor like Alexander Graham Bell, Jonas Salk or a chemist working on the cure for cancer. Instead, consider the concept of untested ideas a little more broadly.

What about our thoughts?

We view the world, our interactions, our relationships through a filter – we create meaning and connections to individual behavior that may or may not be true. We have opinions and judgements about ourselves, our co-workers, our boss, friends, family, community members, and many of these ideas are untested.

Some examples:

He isn’t listening. He never listens.

He’s a jerk.

She’s mad because I disagreed with her.

No one will like this idea.

He’s not replying to my email because he thinks it’s a bad idea.

I can’t present, I don’t have anything new to say.

I’m bugging them – I shouldn’t call again.  

These thoughts and assumptions are untested – roaming around inside our brains. The problem is that the thoughts create an emotion and the emotion creates a behavior. That behavior leads to a result – which is often unwanted.

With self-awareness comes the realization of all the negative thoughts (untested ideas) roaming around inside our brains. Consider testing just one.

Testing Your Ideas

Thought: There is no point speaking up in this meeting of senior leaders. No one will listen to me.

Don’t be so sure. Is that really true? How can you know that is true? How can we test it?

Then make a quick plan. I’m going to present my opinion.

What happened?  Maybe some listened. Some didn’t. Some agreed. Some didn’t.

What did you learn? Be careful that your conclusions aren’t more untested ideas (they didn’t agree with me. How do you know?).

Compare Plan to Actual

Pull out all these untested thoughts – have a look at them, turn them around, review, consider and then test them.

Compare the plan to actual and learn from the difference.

Is that really true? How can we test that idea?

It is only through testing ideas that we can expand our knowledge threshold and achieve what we never thought possible.


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