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Cognology is about thinking and often thinking again, and perhaps even again. The risk, otherwise, is that we do the wrong thing really well.

Issues and concerns in the world require new approaches and insights — tomorrow’s challenges cannot be solved with yesterday’s solutions.

We need new ways to understand the complexity of social or commercial challenges.

The Cognologist has thought about how we regulate, and govern and plan and strategise and go to work everyday to the very best, and wonder why things go pear-shaped.

Of marshmallows and boiled frogs

Keep in mind that regulators are monopoly suppliers of regulation so if they do a bad job we all experience the consequences. The same applies when we are inward looking, protective of our immediate gains, at the expense of future success. Did we pass or fail the marshmallow test: did we take the marshmallow now, rather than two later?

And like the boiled frog, we may resist change to our last breath. Yet zombie thinking, like dead zone regulation, persists and we are the weaker for failing to bury them (and keeping them from coming back again!).

Strategic errors: why we do the wrong thing really well

Sometimes, problem owners use advisors whose problem-solving mind-sets are inappropriate to challenges which are not well-structured. In other cases, problem owners take advice from people selling a canned solution rather than listening to you and your needs. Because we like to think that people know what they are doing, we are dismayed when the advice is mundane or simply wrong headed.

And from their advice, we often do the wrong thing really well.

There are four types of Challenges, so you need advisors who can assist you appropriately in each type. The key issue is to know what type of challenge you have, so you can select the appropriate type of assistance.

Challenge Type 1: Simple & Repetitive

Simple & recurring challenges require the ability to offer strong delivery of results consistently over time. Advisors will provide templated and prestructured solutions to common challenges shared by many people or organisations.

Challenge Type 2: Complex & Repetitive

Complex & recurring challenges require the ability to offer very strong problem solving that brings technical capabilities and knowledge and significant industry experience together. The focus is a challenge that has a degree of complexity that standard solutions may not be suitable.

Challenge Type 3: Simple & Non-recurring

Simple & non-recurring challenges require the ability to extrapolate from experience to create a solution to a fairly simple problem, but one which you haven’t experienced before, but the advisor has.

Challenge Type 4: Complex & Non-recurring

Complex & non-recurring challenges require the ability to create solutions often in a vacuum, where strong new ideas are needed to create new solutions that haven’t been seen before for challenges that haven’t been seen before.

Be warned, Type 4 Challenges are often approached by consultancies as though they were one of the other types. This may be a reflection of a lack of expertise at the level needed, but usually you’ll know you’ve paid for bad advice if the problem persists or morphs into a new one, in which case you are facing what is called a “Wicked” problem, which have the bad habit of looking like they can be solved, but the very solution spawns new challenges. Unfortunately for many problem owners, they have now solved the wrong problem really well.