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From bit to signal or to spook

Weak signals? What makes a bit to a signal? When a bit connects to another piece and these bits form a string, or another combination. Each pattern has a structure. A string of bits get the meaning of a signal when it leads to a specific outcome.

Create a pattern

Creating a pattern is an active act. We did not find the Einstein formula somewhere hidden under a stone. The created pattern leads to a conclusion: when you see this signal it activates a specific pattern of consequents. This is boring normal. You know people who can create an alarming event starting with one bit and by connecting it with many seemingly unrelated pieces. The pieces can be invented, fantasized or based on reality.

We know we create patterns, we like to see patterns, that's the way we create sense with isolated bits. We know even that we add pieces that are not really there because we need these to make a nice configuration.

Bits but not a whole

Often we do not know the whole pattern. We just create. Like scientists In the movie, ‘The day after tomorrow’ warn that the current patterns of the deep ocean water streams can change with dramatic consequents. Some bits can be seen as indicators, but when is it a pattern we cannot ignore anymore. The warner says: ‘act now we still have time to prevent the change’. Others say: ‘you will see it when it happens’. And then it happens with all the disastrous consequents.

Reading the future

Directors, investors do it constantly. Medicine people has to do. Pattern reading, creating. Everyone does In private life.

People have different abilities to read and to construct patterns. See a pattern formatting the future.

Writing scenarios is a popular methodology. A different method is develop a sensitive for all sorts of small changes and project these in different outcomes In this way all is more fluent.

Company signals

An entrepreneur of a small company creates future every second

On one hand gets more sensitive for weak signals that indicate changes in the reactions of clients, customers. Possible introductions to key persons, spreading a positive meesage, flyers by enthusiastic listeners

And an other eye on the competitors. The more they copy you, the more they spread your competence too. Being one week ahead in the top of mind of all potential customers is enough. Copy other’s services to keep your portfolio all inclusive.

Difficulties in pattern recognition

  • When we only focus on signals for confirmation of a pattern we see,

  • Ignore the possibility of a wrong conclusion. A false positive or a false negative conclusion

  • Ignore an optional pattern for to long as impossible

  • Believe for too long in a pattern that is still an option.

How to prevent possible biasses in interpretations?

  • Search for signal that contradicts a specific pattern.

  • Think also: what if this is a false positive conclusion or false negative?

  • Think what if what is impossible is true? What are the signals that fit that possibility?

  • Think: What if what we believe is wrong?

  • Let new people analyze the data.

Ask for the changes in patterns they see. New people recognize small change more early and better then the people who are working on the analysis for a long time. In practice: Regular invite new people to analyse your data. Advisers coming the outside. Not the well know specialists they build their interpretations on many specific interpretations they do not remember anymore and cannot test. Not necessarily young people but non-experts in this field.

  • Learning from the what-if analysis on a change in the past.

What-if we succeeded in the past in the launch of our new product (video recorder)? This can lead to better understanding of underlying processes that influence our decision making and point to forgotten bits, details.

  • Break down big questions to smaller more detailed testable areas.

A new bias can happen: we have the tendency to overrate the possibility of occurrence of an event when an event is more described in detail. But actually a general event has a bigger opportunity to happen. It will rain today in the Netherlands, or it will rain in Amsterdam today. Humans have a tendency to overrate the possibility of a detailed described event over a general described event.

Ton Voogt

October 2015

Related blogs and essays

Weak signal on cooperation ...
Sensing future ...
Stereotyping ...

More reading

Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, Superforcasting, 2015

© 2017 TonVoogtConsultancy ~ Recent Update 24-08-2017
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