Snatching the nettle
Black Mirror’s interactive “Bandersnatch” episode, recently released to critical acclaim, reveals how difficult we find making decisions in our own day-to-day lives, let alone somebody else’s.
Viewers are asked to decide how to progress Bandersnatch by selecting one out of two options at certain intervals throughout the story. If an option isn’t selected in time, then Netflix’s algorithm will decide for the viewer.
It’s no surprise that an article appeared recently that referred to the “Bandersnatch factor” – that is, “how little information we can actually gather about any choice we’re about to make,” as Kerri Sackville writes.
“In life, as in Bandersnatch,” Sackville continues, “Our decisions aren’t ever as informed as we believe them to be. The unknowns far outweigh the predictable consequences of our decisions.”
To illuminate her point, Sackville lists events of seemingly minor importance in her own life that she committed to (lunch with an ex and joining Twitter) that resulted in significant consequences (marriage and children, and a new writing career, respectively).
To that end, Sackville’s advice is to “relinquish the illusion of control, and strap in”.
Other viewers of Bandersnatch clearly don’t think the same way – Bandersnatch co-creator Charlie Brooker told The Huffington Post that some viewers have reacted by saying they don’t want to make decisions for an on-screen character.
Perhaps they have a point. Previous examples of interactive media, such as Try Life (2012) and Kinoautomat (1967), prove “how choices are not frivolous entertainment. A mistake could lead to terrible consequences: one cannot ‘try’ life.”
So how do we grow decision-making mindsets for ourselves and those around us? Delegating the making of decisions to artificial intelligence is not the answer, as one respondent to the Sackville article suggests. This only takes us so far. What do we do when situations and contexts change? The ability to create potential futures that haven’t existed before and direct movement towards them is a uniquely human talent — for the moment.
The futures of many industries and work itself are emerging in an environment of rapid change, new technologies, global alignments, cultural diversities and volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity — all of which is leading to greater personal, corporate and societal turbulence.
Thinking and decision-making orientations therefore need to be more flexible, adaptive and responsive to changes and choices that foster innovation, creativity and entrepreneurism to not only keep up, but get ahead of the game in the workplace and in life, in general.
The greatest risk in this emerging world is to be locked into ways of thinking and deciding based on personality and behavioural patterns that are locked into past success rather than unlocking pathways to future achievements and associations.
Everyone has a greater knowledge of their historical patterns, but many decision-makers are looking for new directions and opportunities to be better placed in their futures. We seek to find that next problem worth solving, which could bring about new opportunities and change the nature of our thinking and lives.
The ability to understand the thinking patterns we as humans can apply increases sensitivity to the diverse and changing needs, hopes and expectations of our clients, colleagues, customers and communities. It shapes their attitudes, behaviours, choices, decisions and evaluations, leading to a greater capacity to anticipate and address higher levels of required performance and satisfaction in future work settings.
Identifying and magnifying the untapped decision support capability of people as they gain experience, expertise and engagement with work/life environments provides a 720⁰ perspective on career placement and position promotion that not only recognises growth potential but also facilitates improvement in having the best people in the best position to communicate and collaborate in future work situations with control over bias and prejudicial judgements
As Dr Colin Benjamin OAM MAASW FAICD, Gooroo’s Scientific Advisor, wrote last year: “Good decisions are always the right ones after the fact. Better decisions involve both risks and rewards WHEN considering the options and THEN following up with appropriate actions.”