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Re: [XP] Becoming rational about Irrationality

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  • Tim Ottinger
    ... If you treat people as predictable, oh, who am I kidding.. people are full of surprises. Huge difference between irrational and stupid or foolish. People
    Message 1 of 19 , Dec 13, 2010
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      ----- Original Message ----
      > If you behave as if people are irrational, you will often find that
      > they are. If you behave as if people are rational, you will often
      > find that they are.

      If you treat people as predictable, oh, who am I kidding.. people
      are full of surprises.

      Huge difference between irrational and stupid or foolish. People are
      brilliant, chaotic, inventive, optimizing, changeable, and capable of
      leaps of intuition and analogy that are shocking, amusing, and
      educational.
      If you do great things in ways that are unpredict
      I respect people who are different, including those who are
      intuitive in ways that I would never have anticipated, and
      those who are rational beyond my knowledge.

      If you treat amazing people as if they are purely rational
      beings, you might find that you've underestimated them.
      Likewise if you think you can understand people without
      understanding the unique context of the person.problem

      I'm at the modern/postmodern boundary. I think it's grand.

      Tim Ottinger
      http://agileinaflash.blogspot.com/
      http://agileotter.blogspot.com/
    • JeffGrigg
      ... Yes, heuristics seem to guide most human behavior, from what I ve seen. Also, here s a heuristic that I have found useful: When you see people doing
      Message 2 of 19 , Dec 30, 2010
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        --- Dale Emery <dale@...> wrote:
        > I figure that people are largely heuristic most of the time.
        > [...] there's a kind of rationality in the heuristics.

        Yes, heuristics seem to guide most human behavior, from what I've seen.

        Also, here's a heuristic that I have found useful:
        "When you see people doing something bad, unproductive, and/or
        self-destructive, realize that there is probably some good
        reason motivating them to do this."

        (IE: Most people are not insane. ;-)

        When you see dysfunctional behavior, look for the positive benefits they get from that behavior. You'll have a better chance of reasoning with them and/or motivating different behavior if you see what's motivating them, rather than just thinking that they're crazy and/or irrational.

        Like, why would team members or team leaders play "schedule chicken" -- hiding the fact that they or their team are behind schedule; causing risk to the project and company? Well, typically in most organizations, those who admit having problems are punished and/or demoted (in the process of being "helped" by well-meaning superiors), and most likely would have been better off without this "help", as their peers were just as late, if not more so (and hiding it more successfully). So receiving help hurts the receiver without benefiting the project/company, because the project(s) will get delayed anyway by others as their lateness becomes apparent.

        "If you see people doing something apparently irrational,
        realize that there is probably something motivating them
        to do this."

        You may not be able to address the root cause. But being aware of it at least lets you know what you're up against.
      • PAUL
        Hi Jeff, ... When I started this thread this is the type of thing I had in mind. There is always a rational explanation for the irrational. Organisations are a
        Message 3 of 19 , Dec 30, 2010
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          Hi Jeff,

          > "If you see people doing something apparently irrational,
          > realize that there is probably something motivating them
          > to do this."
          >
          > You may not be able to address the root cause. But being aware of it at least lets you know what you're up against.
          >

          When I started this thread this is the type of thing I had in mind. There is always a rational explanation for the irrational. Organisations are a complex web of motives and agendas, with people acting out of fear and the desire to preserve some modicum of personal safety as much as anything else.

          When looked at in this way, supposedly irrational behaviour suddenly makes a lot of sense.

          This along with the other false assumptions I outlined tells me that there are limits to our ability to affect organisational change, especially for large organisations. People are acting in dysfunctional ways for good reason. Removing those reasons and aligning the whole organisation is usually beyond our remit.

          Regards,

          Paul.
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