How do you categorize experiences?
Do you notice what is there or what is missing?
First, why does it matter?
1) A technology manager accepted the vendors judgment that shutting down the data center was just like the time before. This time the system crashed and results were disastrous, millions of dollars lost. They missed the small but significant difference.
2) A sales V.P. viewed all challenges as the same old, same old. He almost lost his job because the CEO didn’t think he could develop new strategies. Fortunately, we identified and changed his tendency to categorize experience with what he already knew.
Second, do you sort for sameness or difference?
Do you always notice how things are similar to what you already know and do? What’s the relationship between this job and the last? Same or Different?
In other words do you look for matches for your current knowledge?
When a presenter is speaking do you find yourself agreeing with most of what they say? That’s just like …
In your thinking do you always find counter-examples. Ways in which what the speaker is saying isn’t accurate.
Are you noticing the mismatches?
The sameness sorting pattern looks for commonalities.
The difference sorting pattern notices what stands out from the rest of the group.
Another way to say this is that there is a tendency to either match with, or mismatch what is already there.
Advantage-makers are fluent in both matching and mismatching.
If you want to spot opportunity and create advantages it is useful to mismatch, that is, sort for differences.
Advantage-Makers walk into situations with their ability to actively sort for differences. They note weaknesses, threats, and problems, as well as opportunities that others aren’t seeing. Instead of seeing what is expected, they notice what is unexpected. They are able to spot anomalies and then take advantage of them. The point is not to get caught in any rut.
Practice noticing what is different.
In a task or negotiation, ask yourself,
1) What appears obvious, along with what am I not seeing?
2) In the unlikely event that a problem occurs what will we do?
3) When you are stuck shift from sameness to mismatching, or from difference to matching.
You can spot opportunity but only if you notice difference.