Henry Blodget spotted this image. I think it captures very succinctly the perils of retrospective coherence – the myriad ways we tidy up history to make things seem more linear.

I think the delusion of linearity accounts for a lot of not-very-effective training and even-less-effective bureaucracy. Processes and skills are reduced to simple steps and a kind of mindless consistency is championed.

I think learning needs to be messier; amid all those twists and turns are the discoveries and surprises that satisfy the participant and help new things stick. We have to embrace a certain degree of edginess and discomfort but in return we get aliveness and engagement.

With some friends I’ve put up a website which elaborates a little on this kind of edge thinking.

Hat tip: Viv’s tweet

3 thoughts on “Success

  1. Tony Hall

    That’s genius. I try to tell the people in my care this all the time. And fail. One picture (well, two little drawinds) is worth a thousand words.


    I prefer to stay in the widdly bit, it’s more fun. Also the second image would make more sense for me if it was flat, rather than pointing up. Why is ‘success’ seen as up, on top, looking down – probably as much to do with the fear of feeling inferior as it is about feeling superior. Also the arrow doesn’t make sense for me either – more a … … … we can ‘see’ ‘success’, on reflection, in the messy bit if we choose to – not feeling we have to ‘achieve’ it, just live the everyday, and in retrospect, if you have time, ‘see’ those moments of ‘success’ for what they are – a little bit inside the messy.

  2. Johnnie Moore

    Thanks for the comments. Tony, yes I agree… Success itself is part of the mess – shades of Kipling’s wisdom about The I posters of triumph and disaster…

  3. Pingback: Learning is messy | Conferences That Work

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