Behaviour through a third lens
This blog takes on a third example of how to examine and thereby prepare to make better decisions toward behaviours. Bringing qualitative technique back alongside the quantitative techniques we are told are our future norm.
Sensemaking – What Makes Human Intelligence Essential in the Age of the Algorithm
by Christian Madsbjerg 2017
when we commit to losing a part of ourselves, we gain something profoundly new in exchange. We gain insight. I call the practice of cultivating these types of insights sensemaking.Christian Madsjberg 2017, Sensemaking pp5
In my opinion some of the sentiment of Madsbjerg has a sense of flow about it. He references “phronesis” to mean an Aristocratic synthesis of knowledge and experience (ibid pp6), and the type of leaders that become as one with the systems, societies, and organisations, they are stewarding “as an extension of their body” (ibid pp7).
From a social psychology we have theories that help explain the contextual nuance behind our social interactions. Social Representations by processes of objectification and anchoring which group or categorise based upon shared (communicated) experiences; or anchoring from pre-existing systems of thought. Madjsberg introduces similar influence pertaining to why people in that culture act the way they do (pp6).
He then (pp8) also identifies with the philosophical addresses objective reality becoming subjective understanding. Referencing Heidegger to reflect upon these unspoken assumptions “that on the basis of which beings are understood”.
we stop seeing a room as a space filled with individual items and we start seeing the structures form a cultural reality…nothing exists in an individual vacuumChristian Madsjberg 2017, Sensemaking pp11-12
He addresses these meanings as philosophical terms reflecting our spoken exchanges. Highlighting contemporary philosophers and their terms: “Habitus” Pierre Bourdieu; “The discourse” Ernesto Laclau, Michel Foucault “The conversation”
In cognitive psychology there is reason to challenge all ideas of comparison between mind and computer, and the linear processing of information this represents. Madjsberg presents this same challenge with more philosophical underpinning. He rejects Cartesian understanding, arguing this “is meaningless without without studying the world” (pp39). Arguing a little later that sensemaking is the missing connective tissue (pp43), and that we must understand the holistic vs the atomised (pp49), and recommend us to read “no exit” by Sartre (pp51) and highlighting Google’s Ray Kurzweil 2012 book “how to create a mind” and the associated Pattern Recognition Theory of the Mind (PRTM) to which he observes “but it’s not how the brain works…” (pp52).
Heidegger helps conclude this philosophical analysis Hubert Dreyfus “Mind over Machine” as the pre-eminent interpreter of Heidegger (pp55-56). Madjsberg argues that these philosophical interpreters both argue against the mind as a rational calculator. Madjsberg instead presenting a framework of how experts achieve mastery through an engagement with culture and social context (cf. pp57-60 for his 5 stages from novice to expert).
Here are additional categorised concepts. Most pithy phrases, and all explanations are Madsbjerg’s.
thin data is facts. Thick data is how we relate to the many different worlds we inhabit e.g., sensing the stress in a room (pp15)
pp70-75 four types of knowing: Objective; subjective; shared; sensory. These wide types enabling greater understanding e.g. pp76 pattern recognition or synthesis; pp79-81 literary economics. Reason, emotions, judgement, and analysis.
lack of thick data ability in boardrooms, “imagination and intuitions of top leaders are starving” pp16
time and space – reframe to a problem of a phenomenon pp99-100
pp15 Savannah not the zoo. Phenomenology of human behaviour in social context; pp18 see its ghosts
the thing in itself
pp93-96 . Avoid getting caught up in what is “real”. Example, pp96 the same champagne in a plastic cup or a fine glass from a white gloved waiter leave you with very different experience
always return to the thing itselfEdmund Husserl
Heidegger (Husserl’s best student) reversed the philosophy to focus upon social structures of worlds as opposed to Husserl’s reflecting on the thinking of the individual. cf. Sartre and existentialism
pp192 “without care, everything is correct and nothing is true“
pp154-155 William James “the principles of psychology” references to attention as focalisation, concentration, of consciousness vs other thoughts. “My experience is what I agree to attend to”
Madsbjerg presents this in a number of forms. pp183 become a connoisseur; pp187 alchemy of sensemaking by being in it. He also reflects upon what is not technical understood (pp191), concluding that “care cannot be replaced with Moneyball type atomised analytics” (pp194).
as opposed to manufacturing. pp123 problem solving human behaviour with no hypothesis or clarity of what is known needs sensemaking creativity that comes through us not from us
Related to THICK DATA is need for wider perspective because, he argues pp22, our complexity is artificial and our data is inappropriately contextualised. pp21 Abductive logic affords creative insight, but that requires us to accept dead ends and serendipity. It is messy and needs a confidence to remain doubt for indeterminate amounts of time.
pp130 “grace” as creative insight travelling through us via our social sphere not from us. [the later examples on pp146 akin to flow].
pp131 psychologist Wolfgang Kohler “three Bs” bus, bath, bed as three places where environment engenders creativity. Heidegger referred to “the middle voice” or old Greek word “phainesthai” which erases the distinction between subject and object – rather how they are revealed through us not by us.
pp158 “with a click, the left and the right are equally satisfied” pp159 “the metaphor” pp160 “the derring-do is actually in the service of site constraints” rather than the signature of the artist.
pp107-108 “mood mentality” neither comes from outside or inside but from our very existence in the world.
pp116 theory of reciprocity (cf Marshall Sahlins three models of giving) give to get more vs get the same vs no expectation of return;
pp 114-116 Heidegger three levels of empathy:
- below awareness threshold which we adjust to. It may be cultural clothing norms, or particular nuance of language. Sociologists and anthropologists have debated for 100 years whether this has a socio-animalistic or formal structural undertone.
- awareness when it’s wrong. Often triggered from first level empathy moving to this second
- Analytical empathy which is systematic, framework and theory supported. “This is sensemaking. Theory unlimatelg reveals the insight” pp116
pp168 “assessing and responding to the core emotional interests in the room” Sheila Heen Difficult Conversation (Harvard business school) pp169 in a room full of executives who is respected? Who is carries weight of insight? Who is seen as difficult? Who is trusted? Who is beloved?
pp170 reading the leader’s relationships, including the relationship with themselves. Self-conscious, cynical, invested, self-deprecating or at least self transforming?
pp171 reading the culture of the company: competitive; egalitarian; creative; hard-nosed; underdog or alpha. Changing points and tensions.
pp173 “reading between the rules”
pp175 be with the people to read them. If you cannot be with them, then read their fiction. The descriptions of the human experience.
pp176 “the gulf of veneer” vs walking in their shoes
pp177 understanding the antagonistic world. pp178 know who you talking to, and who they are really talking to pp179 which means you must know the culture.
pp182 the key is navigating the other persons emotions. The most dangerous negotiation is the one you do not know you are in.
pp101 discourse analysis – words and concepts meaning and significance.
pp116 symbols and nuance of meaning; discourse theory showing words in context (cf Ernest Laclau and Chantal Mouffe); binary codes of social systems (cf Niklas Luhmann); stage-managed impressions (cf Erving Goffman’s “the presentation of Self in Everyday life” 1956); Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theories of language – “don’t think, but look” as most language of cooperation is not verbalised.
Abductive – nonlinear – educated guesswork of most likely.
cf Peirce 1877 “the fixation of belief”; 1899 “first rule of logic”; 1903 “pragmatism and abduction”. Observing that Pierce was critical of deductive or inductive logic the former asserts correctness, and the second asserts unknowns are knowable with more technical ability.
not GPS. pp23 sensemaking shows the breadth of textural context needed. Following the North Star not head stuck upon the gps.
pp173 teaching is a negotiation. You’re negotiating for engagement and credibility. Once content is known you can speak from inside the content and thereby respond in the moment to the context.
pp195 Heidegger “meaningful difference”. The opposite in nihilism which corporate hierarchy is filled with. cf Heidegger 1954 “the question concerning technology” which he argues has not only replaced our gods but also replaced us. Optimisation of the material rather than flexing with it to find its best repurpose. pp197 we do this with people as interchangeable widgets vs “the source of meaning in our lives is not in us…it is in being in the world…we can all bring out what is best in ourselves” Hubert Dreyfus.
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As a foil to the biological and behaviourist sentiments of Robert Sapolsky, Christian Madsbjerg’s equally contemporary writing presents the more nuanced reflection of what the mind offers in problem solving, rather than the explanations of behaviour as bio-chemistry and the brain.
The significance of sensemaking as presented in this wonderfully engaging book is its engagement with philosophical discussion in a practical way. Principally reflecting upon the necessary skill sets we all need when managing the very human reality in decision-making. This is the third blog from me this week addressing perspectives on behaviour. All of which I treat as equally valid in potential for understanding behavioural challenge, and therein the means by which controls and directions to decision-making can be outlined.
In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.