Hawai’i’s Shared Futures By Vision Foresight Strategy

Control and Certainty

ScienceNOW online had a recent article that discussed human psychology and perception as it relates to issues of control.  Humans are extraordinary pattern recognizers, and it turns out that when people express loss-of-control sensations, they seem to have a greater tendency to see patterns in random things and to attribute cause-and-effect relationships to events that have no necessary relationship.

Why is this important?  It should alert us to what may be very common failures in thinking and judgment when we’re under stress.  Humans are greate story tellers and we seem geared to needing to create stories to help make sense of and even remember things, so we often place value and meaning into what are really unrelated and random events that occur around us.

And importantly during times of ‘crisis’ like extreme stock market fluctuations or natural disasters, people often feel a need to make sense of events, to find a reason and purpose for them.  But many of the events that arise unexpectedly and exert significance do not necessarily have a human purpose to them: it’s simply life.  And our strategic conversations, those that we conduct to keep one eye on the big picture and long-view for our organizations, needs to take into account this uncertainty and unpredictability in life.


  • The Black Swan: a very interesting exploration into the unpredictability and randomness in real life
  • Brain Rules: a cool new book on how our brains learn and remember
  • Break Through: a provocative book co-authored by Michael Shellenberger, a speaker at our second annual Hawai’i Futures Summit this past weekend who impressed the audience with, among other many other ideas, the understanding that ecological change and natural disasters are not divine punishment for human sins

Filed under: Change, Economics, foresight, Summit

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October 2008
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