According to Wikipedia, the theory of cognitive dissonance states that people are prone to one particular side of a belief or outcome, even though they have clear facts showing them that the opposite is true. An example of this would be the conflict between wanting to smoke and knowing that smoking is unhealthy. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a smoker say “I am not worried, after all, they probably will find a cure to cancer in our lifetime, right?”
It is easy to see cognitive dissonance present among the behavior of our coworkers, friends or family. It is not so easy to see it in our own behavior. I have a personal example of a short term cognitive dissonance around my capability to be à Superhuman.
I am not a strong downhill skier. However, last year I decided to take a day on my own and enjoy the slopes. Upon arrival I wanted to do a couple of green runs before hitting the difficulty of the blue (as I said, not a strong skier). Within the first 5 minutes of the run, I fell….my hip hit the binding of my loose ski. The pain was horrid. But, after the shock wore off, I managed to put on my ski again and very slowly ski down. With relief and the feeling of success, I promptly contemplated whether I should end my ski day after only 1 run, or if I should ignore my fall and continue skiing. After all, I am a strong woman who has a high pain tolerance, and I did not want to waste my trip out to the mountains. So, I decided to check out my body’s health by going down one more run. 3 hours later I finally finished my ski day, and only then went out to check out the damage done in the beginning of the day. I will not get into details within this professional blog. However, let’s just say it was ugly. 9 months after the accident, my physiotherapist confirmed that skiing for 3 hours after the fall did much more damage than the fall itself. The scaring will never fully go away. But heck, at least I proved to myself that I am a strong and pain tolerant woman!
As usual, I try to link these little stories to the world of print optimization which I come across every day. How is cognitive dissonance present in this area of my life? I will be blunt.
There are a lot of decision makers out there who feel they have the control and the knowledge to do what is right for their organization. They feel they are saving money, and that their relationships with their vendor partners are working well. They see signs of potential issues or lost potential, but somehow manage to ignore them for years at a time. I cannot express how many times I have heard decision makers state to me how they regret not involving POG Consulting within their process of optimization. How they see, post deployment, that they missed out on the biggest opportunities, or that the commitments made by their partners were not quite followed through on. But if I was to rewind the time, these same individuals would have sworn that they are fully in control.
I cannot blame them. After all, as I described above, I too have moments of super-human capabilities. Eventually though, it did catch up to me and the effects of my decision will stay with me for life. I know I will be remembering this the next time I feel that I am superhuman.