How to avoid illusory pattern perception in business

Let’s talk about confirmation bias. It’s one of the many quirks of the human brain. It’s explained like this: your brain arrives at a conclusion about something and then it assimilates information from different sources to support the conclusion.

This assimilation has the effect of reinforcing the conclusion perceived veracity in your mind. Another effect is that almost unknowingly, you dismiss any data to the contrary as false.


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Illusory pattern perception sabotages progress

Many of us who live in the 21st century face a compounded version of this problem. The reason? The internet, of course.

The internet is a massive hive of information, meaning it’s very easy to find information from among the bits and bytes floating in the world wide web something to reassert and already drawn conclusion. This creates an echo chamber of sorts in your brain, in which reinforcing information gets absorbed over and over again.

The problem, here, of course, is that if we drew the wrong conclusion to begin with- which is often the case- the more information you acquire to substantiate it, the more deep rooted the problem gets.

The quirk and danger of illusory pattern perception

There’s nothing surprising about confirmation bias being all too common in humans. For our brains are naturally wired to find patterns in the world that surrounds us. This makes a lot of sense from an evolutionary standpoint. For instance, you needed to link dark clouds with the potential for storm to get to higher grounds before a flood. Another example is  the ability to associate a shadow with the possibility of a predator, lying in wait to annihilate you.

So, the brain is a rather savvy pattern-seeker. But no matter how sophisticated it is, the world could be almost excruciatingly random at times.The sheer volume of events that happen out there could itself be maddening, so that finding a cohesive pattern about something may be nigh impossible.

So, what does the brain do in such scenarios? Does it just shut itself down? Refuse to process any further, faced with the overwhelming volume of information out there? 

If you thought that’s what happened, you underestimates your own brain.

For in these situations, the brain just goes ahead and finds a pattern regardless. It doesn’t matter if the said pattern actually exists or not. The inclination of the brain to find patterns where they don’t exist is called ‘illusory pattern perception.’

You could see why this could be a problem in many scenarios.

How the problem ties to change agents

The ideas of illusory pattern perception and confirmation bias are extremely relevant to change agents in organizations.

Professional excellence depends on constantly pushing your limits and aiming for the highest possible objective. But when that objective is lacking, people begin seeing ‘patterns of grandeur’ where nothing of the kind actually exists. These patterns point to an illusory future which pertains to fancy than reality. Chasing these fantastical goals, the change agents lose a lot of time, expending significant resources in the process, only to regret it later. Worse, if the change agent in question leads a team or organization, he or she would also lead the people under them along the path towards an illusive future.



Tackling the problem with True Personal Vision

The only way not to fall in the trap of illusory pattern perception in such a context is to have a clear idea of where you wish to lead your organization, something that’s not derived from the external world and thereby susceptible to being illusory but which exists in your self.

We are talking about True Personal Vision. It is the vision that could be found within your self and nowhere else in the whole universe. It’s unique and is a glowing vision towards which you could move, providing the basis for guiding your organization.

Unfortunately, what with the myriad distractions of modern life, it’s all too easy to lose sight of your vision.

Temenos Vision Lab or TVL is a unique session developed by Temenos+Agility to help you realize your True Personal Vision. Using proprietary tools, TVL is conducted by some of the best leadership coaches in business with extensive experience in conducting transformative sessions.

Once you realize your True Personal Vision,  the focus shifts from distractions to pursuing the future. Not an illusory future but one the idea of which you found within yourself, something which is as real as the fact that you are here.


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