Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Ambiguity is exhausting to the Rider, because the Rider is tugging on the reins of the Elephant, trying to direct the Elephant down a new path. But when the road is uncertain, the Elephant will insist on taking the default path, the most familiar path..."

Chip Heath and Dan Heath,Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Okay, the Rider is rational mind, the Elephant our emotions, a primordial tug of war. The default path, of course, is the status quo. The game is to trick the Elephant down new pathways.

But there may also be a need to accustom the Elephant to surviving in messy situations without going default too quickly. By messy I don't just mean disorganized or haphazard -- I'm thinking of "wicked" problems where we are unsure of values and cause/effect relationships. Inevitably, we need to try things out -- and fail.

I suspect we are nearing the end of this metaphor's utility -- Riders and Elephants. Maybe we just have to let go.

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