Smiling and ‘reaching’ defines the happy adventurer – When are they good for business?

‘Happy Adventurers‘ are all smiles, reaching out to grab the next interesting thing that they see – but when are they good for business?

Does smiling and reaching out lead to better business decisions?

Reaching out

In one of my earlier blogs I touched upon the heart-warming observation that happiness (smiling and laughter) is innate in the human being. It emerges very early on in human development (from ~6 weeks?). It dominates interactions with other humans until driven aside by the anxieties that take hold of us as we enter a more sophisticated engagement with others (somewhere between 3 – 5 years of age?).

The other innate, early days, phenomena that many infants exhibit is the reflex to reach out and grab things that they see. This natural and seemingly obvious desire to connect a visual picture with a physical, 4-dimensional understanding might pass us by. When we have carried a one year old around for 24 hours and physically experienced how many times the child reaches out to touch, grab, yank, throw something in its visual field it is very striking. It’s a lot of times – like every 5-seconds at peak!

What fascinates me about ‘reaching’ is that it is fearless as well as frequent with little, if any, evaluation of the risks involved. This explore first, lick your wounds later, behaviour has no doubt helped us humans to evolve successfully to where we are today. But to what extent we still carrying this primitive behaviour into the modern business decision-making context as adults? Have we tempered and tamed that reflex with the 10-15+ years of schooling and general life experience that we receive before we get to make significant decisions?

I think the answer depends on how our individual personalities have evolved, shaped by numerous influences that I only vaguely understand.

So what?

When we are in that Board meeting and the Strategy for the next two years is put before us, how many really understand what has been presented? How many delegates, ignorant of the risks, will be ‘reaching out’ to see what happens with a comforting smile on their face and a disarming chuckle up their sleeve?

And it’s not just the direct risks.

What about the linked issues? An infant reaching out and pulling the electrical lead out of the wall socket by yanking the flex may cause the iron to fall on it and may also trip the electrical circuit causing the freezer to defrost.

If any of this was pertinent what would we expect the outcome to be in our wider world of business? How would it manifest in our business decision making? Maybe we would see an unstemable tide of optimistic investment requests promulgating through our organisation. We might see these being  met with limited understanding but lots of support for having a go and seeing what happens next. It could result in a plethora of badly led business change initiatives and a poor track record for ICT-enabled business transformation projects…..

Do we ever see that?

I love the idea that the human psyche  is based on optimism, humour and adventure and that these predispositions are ‘built in’.

But I also want to understand when these reflexes are operating independently from the logic-driven ‘executive’ in our brains. We can then ensure that we design the decision-making framework to protect us from trashing the business with unfettered optimism and ignorance.

Business Decision Design ® cares about this stuff.

Here is the link to the cover picture.


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