S3 E45 — Tacit Heuristics Blinding Fast-Track Teams

I’ve learned that I am really susceptible to the downsides.  But, I’m a sucker for that aha! experience, so naturally I’d latch on to a word (heuristic) that comes from the same root as eureka.

“5”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): You’ll discover that a belief you held was wrong or incomplete — oh, sweet liberation! This levels the mental ground where you’ll be building something sturdier and more beautiful to dwell inside.  Aries

Hi and welcome to Friday’s Episode 45 in Season 3 of  My Paradoxically Normal Year” on this 14th day of May in the spring of 2021 — which is a three-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic year and then in the pandemic year, and now months after.

The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book

Table of Contents

Previously from Season Three, the Paradoxically Normal Year

S3 E44Make It Rhyme To Work Each Time; S3 E43Add a Little Foresight to My Misdemeanor Tab; S3 E42Greta, Juliette and the Partridge Family at Trestles

Related from Season Two, The Pandemic Year

S2 E45Wildcard What Ifs and Doobie Bros Bias; S2 E44Celebrating Emma the Baroness Tribal Quarantine Style; S2 E43See What You’ve Been Missing …; S2 E42It Was Short and Sweet, but Heart-Felt

Related from Season One, The Normal Year

S1 E45Day 45 of My 1-Year Experiment; S1 E44Google Me Some Chopped Liver; S1 E43Desperation on Such a Summer’s Day; S1 E42Love on the Run


When knowledge management gained purchase as an emerging profession I attended a week-long online conference with early practitioners and discussed “distinctions” of what it was all about.  

It was too soon to define it with hard boundaries.  

One of the pioneers advocated heuristics as a practice for sharing and refining knowledge that wasn’t already explicitly in use. 

 I’d never heard of heuristics before, but I caught a flavor of his meaning for what he called tacit knowledge — what people on a team knew and shared intuitively with each other.

Team members learn something by bringing products to market like the one they’re up against the looming release date.  

The team is stumped.  

Someone pitches a solution based on a similar product she engineered in the recent past and it works. Crisis averted.  That solution is passed on again and again. 

More formally a heuristic is like a rule of thumb — a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person’s mind.

I’ve learned that I am really susceptible to the downsides.  I’m a sucker for that aha! experience, so naturally I’d latch on to a word (heuristic) that comes from the same root as eureka.

If you knew me you’d know I always look for a simple procedure that helps me find answers to difficult questions —  adequate, but often imperfect as they may be to move forward. 

But,  now I’ve come to learn what I’m most likely guilty of is some kind of mental trick, a kind of a bait and switch without noticing.  

I  sometimes automatically substitute an easier question for a difficult one, answer it and congratulate myself on my brilliance.

As Daniel Kahneman says, “(A) lazy System 2 often follows the path of least effort and endorses a heuristic answer without much scrutiny of whether it is truly appropriate.”

How does it work? 

While l’m engaged in searching for an answer to one question, my “System 1” simultaneously generates the answers to related questions. 

Often it may substitute a response that more easily comes to my mind for the one that was requested and more complicated.  

“The heuristic answer is not necessarily simpler or more frugal than the original question, but it is accessible, computed more quickly and easily.” 

The answers are not random.  They are often approximately correct and frequently that’s all you need. 

As in technology heuristic of inserting a good enough product into the customers hands and get them to tell you about all the flaws so you can iterate and release new versions.

But, sometimes they are quite wrong. Which can come back and bite you in your own life if you’ve got a lot on the line.  


But, Zahnny, am I wrong in assuming focus and concentration won’t short circuit my intuitive self no matter how flawed?

“3”  Steve Zahn, 51: “The work worth doing centers around your energy, perception and ability. Focus there, and so much else will naturally come together. Focusing elsewhere will be ineffective.” Scorpio

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

You know, Steve sometimes your Holiday Tau hits the nail on the head.  It wasn’t until these last weeks while working on the Conclusions section of my Report that I discovered heuristics, good as they may be in general, weren’t the end all and be all of knowledge management.  In fact they may have accounted for blinding fast-track teams under pressure to deliver tech products at a faster and faster pace.  Mea culpa.

“5”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): You’ll discover that a belief you held was wrong or incomplete — oh, sweet liberation! This levels the mental ground where you’ll be building something sturdier and more beautiful to dwell inside.  Aries

Eureka G&G.  Here’s my take on this passion project at 5:45 am this morning. Looking back through the report I grow tired and weary because of the disconnects and disjointed sections.  My plan was to write the end and then go back to the beginning and clean up portions as I made progress towards the conclusion.

“5”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:The interaction of opposing forces in your mind creates friction, hot moods and frustrating mental traffic jams. Alignment changes everything. Thoughts flowing in the same direction create momentous forward movement.  Virgo

Did someone say, aha! or eureka?  Count me in. Anything to distract me, like a squirrel does for a dog, from this ongoing national political disgrace.

“4”  Steve Jobs, (1955 – 2011): “Heavy topics and serious matters just don’t have appeal to you now, though you’re quite excited by novelty and the lighter side of life. This mood is perfect for building rapport with others.” Pisces

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @KnowLabs suite of 36 digital magazines jumps from 8138 to 8193 organically grown followers




    • “Future Shock” by Alvin Toffler, a classic I feel which still holds up. As the pace of change quickens we experience self-doubt, anxiety and fear.  We become tense and tire easily, until we are overwhelmed, face-to-face with a crisis situation. Without a clear grasp of relevant reality or beginning with clearly defined values and priorities, we feel a deepening sense of confusion and uncertainty. Our intellectual bewilderment leads to disorientation at the level of personal values. Decision stress results from acceleration, novelty and diversity conflicts. Acceleration pressures us to make quick decisions. Novelty increases the difficulty and length of time while diversity intensifies the anxiety with an increase in the number of options and the amount of information needed to process.  The result is a slower reaction time.
    • Daniel Kahneman’s, “Thinking Fast and Slow”describes two different ways the brain forms thoughts: “System 1” which is meant as a fictional shorthand — not as a brain system or structure: Fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, unconscious. “System 2”: Slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious. I’m learning a lot about my energy levels first described from within an introversion frame now, from within differences between System 1 and the harder working, energy depletion System 2.  Self-control, for instance is hard and takes a lot of energy to accomplish.  When I write the concentration requires effort until I can find the “flow.” Implications for True Belief — it’s easy to stay in System 1 vs. critical thinking — System 2.  Set some marketing and working on the business goals — System 2 and then ignore them by following the lateral thinking and associative thinking  which Leo da V invites me to do — System 1.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate


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