Hypocognition, a term introduced to modern behavioral science by anthropologist Robert Levy, means the lack of a linguistic or cognitive representation for an object, category, or idea.

From "Unknown Unknowns: The Problem of Hypocognition," Scientific American 

This phenomenon suggests that we only know what we have language for. This includes realities and possibilities. It is perhaps one of the most significant differentiators in the options people have that differentiates their potential for wellbeing and meaning. It's an argument for discovering and creating a richer landscape of nuances in any domain of life, work and love.

The quantum primacy of communication

I recall back in the 1990s when writers and practitioners like Meg Wheatley brilliantly introduced principles from quantum physics in the understanding of complex systems.

One of the most profound realizations I began to incorporate into my work was that everything is information. This includes events, objects, living beings, interactions, dynamics, time, space, discoveries, trends, systems and relationships across all dimensions known and unknown.

This positions communication as the prime cause behind everything that happens in and by teams and organizations. When things go well, it's because of the information we had at the time, through communication. Communication includes sharing, listening, observing, inquiring, doing.

Communication is not one thing that happens at work. It's everything.

The unique power of questions

Everything we consider planning, problem solving, design and decision making can be simply a process structured by iterations of questions. These are predominantly aspirational, learning and organizing questions. 

A question based process has several advantages.

It is inclusive. Everyone can have good questions, regardless of position, expertise or experience.

It is realistic. Questions move us forward based on reality rather than assumptions. 

It is agile. It supports flexibility, responsiveness and resilience.

Another spin on team culture

It's fascinating that the question keeps reemerging: What is team culture and why is it perhaps the most significant invisible force behind team performance, interaction and growth?

Most importantly, the distinction of culture needs to be simple, clear and above all actionable. People will and should lose interest if it's still not clear half way into a bloated slide deck, and if it sounds like building a thriving culture is going to significantly and expensively take us away from work.

One way to understand team culture is as the live landscape of shared thinking and feeling.

This can be the constellation of shared beliefs, stories, expectations, emotions and attitudes. In weak team cultures, there is a shared sense of victimhood, cynicism and deficiency. In strong team cultures, there is a shared sense of agency, confidence and abundance,

What's actually cognitively and affectively shared cannot possibly be commanded, controlled or incentivized. That is why culture devils the large majority of managers who wish it would be otherwise.

For the most part, what's shared is shared through everyday informal and formal conversations. Shifting the culture means shifting the conversations. This is easily learnable, and while we work. It is absurd to think we would have to stop working to shift the conversations we're having anyways and that shape the team culture. We can learn how.

The power of actions

If you work at Front, a collaboration software provider, you can anytime scan CEO Mathilde Collin's calendar. This kind of transparency goes a long way in building and sustaining a culture of trust. It gives her the kind of integrity, accessibility and humility she expects and depends on from her leaders and everyone else. She is clear that actions speak volumes words only allude to. We Need more leaders like this.

Trust based feedback

This sounds like an oxymoron. In so many situations, feedback makes giver and receiver tense. It threatens, weakens or diminishes trust. It's not a function of having and giving feedback. It's a function of choice. When someone offers us a choice, about anythjng, we trust them. 

In trust based feedback, we genuinely ask people of they want specific kinds of feedback and deliver on their affirmation. We genuinely ask others if they want to give us specific kinds of feedback. Both build and deepen trust. 

With trust we are receptive and open. Without it we are defensive and protective. Trust becomes the difference between growth and fixed mindsets.

Learning community in work and school

It's possible to structure how we work in ways that enable people to learn how to live in community. This is an increasingly more vital global and local competency, and one that is very learnable, especially at work. It can actually also be learned in education spaces designed and structured well. This are the competencies of connection, contribution and compassion. They are not difficult to learn. We just need to make it happen on an everyday basis.

The primacy of habits

There are many reasons why talk about habits is far more important than talk about behaviors and skills. Behaviors and skills dependably show up only to the degree they become habits.

Leveraging the latest science on habit building is vital to this effort. Good intentions have little power otherwise.

How to make the most of coaching

Coaching is a partnership that flourishes in a number of ways.

Entrust each other 

Work from the bias that the other is trustworthy. This creates a space of mutual generosity that engages strengths and grows the trust. Openness thrives in a spirit of trust.

Work from questions 

Work from the principle that when things go well in coaching it will precisely because we are working from new, sincere quesitions. 

Focus on progress 

Work from the reality that when it comes to moving in the direction of the learning and growth we seek, all that matters is progress.. Define it, do it and celebrate it.

Learn from everything 

Work from the practice of reflective critique, using any success or failure exprience as teacher. Use the powerful triad: What went well, why and what would we try differently.

These simple ways of working together optimize the mutual value of coaching, where learning and growth happens for all.

5 ways to optimize meeting engagement

There is an art to making everyone feel valued in meetings: valued for their questions, ideas, perspectives and commitments. Here are 6 easy ways to make any meeting a high engagement meeting.

Invite people to contribute to the agenda so there is relevance for their engagement

Have everyone record their own contributions on paper or virtual note cards so everything gets captured, nothing gets lost, filtered or unspoken and no one can dominate the converation 

Make sure space is created throughout and at the end of meetings so people can ask for help after the meeting for agenda items that couldn't get exposure or closure in the meeting

Whenever possible in work sessions, use small groups to create optimum engagement and velocity

To create a culture of collaborative creativity, ask people to first respond to ideas with like and questions: What they like about an idea and what raises their curiosity

We've used these in meetings spanning an hour or day, with just a small handful or a large room full of people. It's amazing what happens when the structure of the meeting process prevents dominating, disappearing and derailing. Meetings do not need to be the places people go to feel excluded and not valued. They can be rich and vital sources of meaning and productivity.


The little things

We can get incredibly caught up in the large considierations of our work. For our customers and clients, it's the little things that translate into our highest value. And the only way to know what these are is by finding out, not assuming or predicting. 

The Inner Game of Work

One of the more neglected considerations when it comes to understanding work performance is the inner game of work. This is how we give attention to things. Attention is everything. People who get more done with more velocity and kindness pay attention differently than those who don't as much. If attention is indeed the root cause of contribution, we should be talking about it more than just about anything else.

The opposite of feeling heard

In a group where the dominant energy is competition for attention and influence, feeling heard happens marginally, if at all. Even those we seek to dominate the space don't always really care if they're actually heard, as long as they can get their way.

We help each other feel heard when we respond with validation and curiosity. Feeling heard creates a connecting converation that's vital for anything creative and practical.

Clarifying and connecting expectations

Nothing gets us in sync like clarifying and connecting expectations. It begins simply with the question: What are our expectations here? 

When we create a space of listening and feeling heard, the question surfaces hopes, wishes, requirements and assumptions. The more clear these become, the more we can connect the expectation dots. This builds trust and trust is velocity.

Having a sense of the whole

It seems obvious to say that we are optimally aligned and energized when we have a real time and ongoing sense of what everyone is up to, working on, needing help with and completing, 

This is not possible through email, conference calls and weekly status meetings. It's only possible through shared, virtual planning and text spaces like Trello and Slack.

The place of admins

Another insane traditional corporate practice is high level decision making, or at any level for that matter, that easily excludes the voice of "admins," meaning the very people who know more of what's going on than anyone in suits of power. Including them will take teams to new levels of smart and sanity.

Solving the executive pay puzzle

Many of the CEOs and executives I've worked closely with over the years were good people. In perspective, they weren't smarter or harder working than everyone, starting with their own team. 

Their comipensation was disproportionate to the value they delivered compared to the value everyone else delivered. The profound inequalities are simply social agreements that they should be so, with all manner of specious rationalizations. Perhaps it's a call for a new class of senior leaders who gladly accept more payment equity while enjoying higher than normal levels of competency.

It's all about intention and attention

When we take a break from complifying how organizations work, we arrive at the simple realization that the good we create happens at the intersection of intention and attention. 

We work from the right intention and attention. We have clarity on the good we seek and give attention to everything that serves and supports it.

The hope principle

"The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

When we dream, we begin going out one generation. It is their hope that inspires our hope. This opens us up to the possibilities of our core gifts,