4 August 2020

Als Ob?

The Fat Man in History is a book by Peter Carey from the 1970s. It's weird. You should check it out. 

I was trying to recall the artist who did the original cover when I fell into the rabbit hole of comments on Goodreads. 

There I discovered this notion of 'als ob' or 'what if' where an author explores alternate realities. This led me to the phisophic notion that we live our lives as if something is true, because ultimately it's convenient to do. 

It's an angle on existentialism. Descartes had the same conclusions to his brain in a jar thought experiment. 

You can see this convenience in life and work. We so often rest our behaviours on convenient truths which as they become shared beliefs morph into conventional truths. 

Over the last decades I've been continuously learning that the conventional truths we are taught early and rely on at work are often based on false assumptions. 

(Here you can reference the common sense is uncommon meme.) 

When I started writing this I intended to leverage this notion to encourage us to run thought experiments more often. We could use planning sessions, retrospectives or just lunchtime chats to explore crazy ideas. What would happen if we pose this "what if" question at the beginning of a discussion? Where might it take us? 

As I write it I see it's also a trigger to check our assumptions about how things really work. What if some foundational assumption we all believe is true turns out not to be? 

(Common example you may have encountered: we need to be colocated to be agile.) 

Take your pick: Challenge your beliefs or explore new potential futures. Or do both. Let's have more "What if?" conversations. 

Also check this out: als ob

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