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Sensemaking using heuristics

Posted by  Mark Schenk —August 21, 2006
Filed in Culture

Long darkSensemaking is described as how we make sense of the world so we can act meaningfully in it. One of the ways we make sense is to apply simple rules of thumb (heuristics) to common situations. I was re-reading The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fame) and noticed a description of a particularly unconventional heurisitic applied by the main character, Dirk Gently, when he got lost while driving:

“There is a school of thought which says that you should consult a map on these occasions, but to such people I say, ‘Ha! What if you have no map to consult? What if you have a map but it’s of the Dordogne?’ My own strategy is to find a car, or the nearest equivalent, which looks as if it knows where it’s going and follow it. I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but I often end up somewhere that I needed to be.”1

This heuristic certainly worked for our hero Dirk in the book, but I am not sure I will be rushing out to try it the next (inevitable) time I get lost in Sydney…

1. Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, Pan Books, London, 1989, p121.

Mark Schenk About  Mark Schenk

Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on:

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