Do We Expect The Right Things From Our People?

Man with laptop and thinking

Creating Human-Centric Expectations

SINCE the dawn of the scientific revolution, humans have sought to control their external environment. Yet, our environment around us influences behaviors and decisions much more than we are aware of. A couple of examples:

  • To protect itself from predators, the cuttlefish can completely change its color to match its environment in under a second. In human terms, the first six months of onboarding are about finding ways to blend in and be a part of the team.
  • Climate has a direct effect on leadership styles. Countries in extreme heat or cold environments produce more autocratic leaders. Countries in mild climates produce more democratic leaders. (Evert Van de Vliert). Think Morocco versus Norway.

Now consider the effect the digital environment has had on humans. Since the 1960s, when computers took its entrance onto the business scene, technology has become more ubiquitous in our daily lives. Some say this trend will lead to The Singularity, blending humans with technology.

Even now, though, technology has become the gold standard for what we expect from one another. Call it reverse anthropomorphism, assigning non-human traits to humans. Consider:

  • We expect our teams to be fast and responsive because we’ve gotten used to Google searches taking 0.03 seconds to complete,
  • We want all decisions based on data (data-based decision-making) and projects delivered perfectly (Waterfall versus Agile).
  • We value pivoting and multitasking versus focused, uninterrupted work. Recall how bored you got watching a classic movie because your brain has been trained to take in fast, ever-changing scenes and information.

Several human traits cannot be replaced by computers and cell phones: love, hate, compassion, greed. And, when it comes to decision-making, there is one human trait we should protect and encourage more than ever: Intuition. This superpower cannot be hacked by technology. Intuition does not speak in the language of words, data, or ones and zeros. It operates on a different plane, combining experience and feeling, conscious and subconscious, physical and spiritual.

The next time you’re about to make an important decision, consider the facts but listen to your gut.

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– Steve Jobs