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Posts Tagged ‘hindsight

After reading some of the comments in this funny video, I had an insight about hindsight.

Video source

One of the repeated suggestions made in hindsight was the three-word command: Remove your blindfold. This was not explicitly against the rules and would have shortened the challenge considerably. It was also have made the clip less funny.

There is a saying that hindsight is 20/20, i.e., decisions and consequences become clear once they are over. It is easier to sit in judgement after the fact than to make good decisions in the moment.

There are ways of using hindsight and some are better than others. In increasing order of benefit, I suggest this non-exhaustive list:

  • Point out a flaw
  • Suggest an idea
  • Highlight a takeaway
  • Take action for the future

All the applications can be good depending on the circumstances. But only the last one sees action. What good is hindsight if it does not shed light on your journey forward?

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If you look back at phenomena or problems, their emergence might seem obvious. Need examples?

The “Duh!” headline of the week might be:

The phenomena is not “news”, it is “olds”. Nielsen was not the first the point this out and it will not be the last as long as newspapers keep trying to justify their existence without changing.

A more recent issue was the sudden and far-reaching law that caught delivery riders off balance. They and other users of personal mobility devices (PMDs) can no longer use shared spaces like footpaths.

We might sigh and lament that we cannot have nice things because some riders brought this on everyone by being rude, irresponsible, or dangerous.

But we might also take in the bigger picture of how PMDs were initially welcomed in the drive to be “car lite” while not making provisions like ensuring infrastructure like extensive and dedicated bike/PMD lanes.

Both these look-backs illustrate the benefit of hindsight — there is an opportunity to learn from bad experiences but at some cost. Such opportunity costs also highlight the need for preventive foresight which also bears cost.

Foresight is less recognised but much appreciated when it is implemented well. Hindsight is more visible: You keep making unnecessary mistakes and look busy while trying to remedy them again. Foresight prevents fires, hindsight puts out fires. Why pay for harmful spectacle?

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