Home Concepts Decison Making & Problem Solving Expertise And Ignorance: We Are All Ignorant—Some of Us Know It and Some Of Us Don’t

Expertise And Ignorance: We Are All Ignorant—Some of Us Know It and Some Of Us Don’t

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This assumption of inevitability need not be negative. It can encourage acceptance of change rather than serve as a barrier to change. In the context of planned organizational change, there is powerful leverage when change leaders construct communications in a way that provides the default message. Change is inevitable. It is certain. How this change is managed and handled may involve employee engagement and innovation—but whether or not it will occur is not up for debate. People respond very differently simply based on how the message is presented – and most are entirely unaware of this influence.


As we have noted throughout this essay, we are bombarded in the mid-21st Century with so much information these days that it is impossible for our brains to process even a small volume of that which is impinging on us. Our brains (largely unconsciously) filter what we pay attention to. Dolan and associates (2012) describe a number of factors that influence how we pay attention to a barrage of information:
* Novelty: information is presented in a new and surprising manner.
* Accessibility: information is available at a point of purchase or when a related matter comes to our attention.
* Simplicity: information is presented in an easily understandable way. Simplicity is particularly important because our attention moves more rapidly to information that we understand. We tend to automatically screen out complexity.

Change leaders are often under pressure to put out information with tight timelines. They often do not give adequate thought to the issue of salience for their target audiences. Coaches and consultants can provide significant benefit to clients when they educate and make clients aware of salience.


Psychologist write about “affect intensity” when addressing the experience of emotion. Those of us involved in organizational change tend to pay little attention to emotions, but affect is a powerful driver in decision-making for all of us, whether we are aware of it or not. As we have noted, Daniel Kahneman identifies the brain’s System 1 (fast automatic) and System (slow cognitive). These systems determine how we react to stimuli and make decisions. Emotions operate against System 2’s careful consideration. Affect intensity is a greater driver of our decision-making than most of us realize.

Research shows that by simply placing an attractive female model in an advertisement for a financial loan increased demand for the loan as much as by reducing the rate by 25% (Dolan, et al.,2012). Few of us probably would admit to being influenced by this model. There is little logic regarding why a sports character on a box of cereal dramatically improves sales, whereas a nutritionist could appear on the box offering a sound explanation concerning benefits of the cereal. We are emotional animals and are primarily influenced by affect intensity—even though many of us would likely refute being influenced by “trivial” factors such as beauty and athletic accomplishments.

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