What Were They Thinking???

Greg asks,

“How do people who are suffering in the middle of work that is horrifically organized and conducted tolerate that?”

“Does anyone really notice that they are not happy, or are we so used to the pain and convinced that it is inevitable that we go along? Do modern people just have a high pain threshold?”

“Is the cultural orientation of people in business so oriented to “producing” that people do not notice the way that things are being done?”

“What are managers and others listening to when, in the middle of observing and managing actions, they keep doing the same things and don’t stop to ask what’s happening and why people are doing things the way they are?”

The questions, he proposes, bring to the fore just how difficult it is to pay attention to our current, habitual ways of doing things, to break up old habits, and build new ones.

Heidegger might have said, in reply, that the people in question were, in fact, not thinking. In these circumstances, we might recognize that people are involved in transparent, recurrent coping with situations and circumstances in which what is happening, and the actions that are possible for dealing with what is happening are completely pre-programmed and automatic. The fact that we say we are thinking under these circumstances is, itself, only another part of our automaticity.

How do you break that up? We speak of pain as a goad to changing behavior. In training designers, I caution against the notion of people liking or being ‘comfortable’ with situtations and proposals. Normally, when everyone is comfortable, nothing important is happening. An effective designer must develop the skill of bringing the right discomfort to the right people in the right moments.

© Copyright 2006, Chauncey Bell and BABDI, LLC. All rights reserved worldwide.

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