Developing Consequences Using Muscle Memory – Tip #266

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Remember the six-sided cube puzzle with all the colors?  It was set up in a 3×3 grid and people would scramble it, misaligning the colors, with a goal of “solving” the cube and aligning the colors once again.  This usually involved tedious trial and error, the aid of a book explaining the processor in a declaration of utter defeat, the removal and rearranging of the stickers.

What began as the brainchild of Emo Rubik in 1974 (where he spent a month struggling to solve his creation), evolved into an entire subculture of speedcubers, participating in competitions all around the world, with solves as fast as sub-four seconds.  

So how do they do it?  How can these dedicated puzzlers possibly manipulate a cube that quickly?  After the memorization of numerous algorithms, it comes down to two things – hours of practice and developing muscle memory.  

Muscle memory, according to the Oxford dictionary, is the ability to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought, acquired as a result of frequent repetition of that movement.  In a practical sense, this phenomenon shows up every day as we type on keyboards, drive our vehicles, and play musical instruments.  The idea of performing a task or activity is “just like riding a bike” comes from this idea of muscle memory.

The good news is, developing this muscle memory for identifying second-order consequences in our daily work is absolutely attainable, it just requires constant repetition.  To ensure we’re repeating the right things to build this mental muscle, get started by asking the following questions:

Who else might be impacted?
What parts of the business might be affected?
What new problems might this solution create?

Looking to get serious about this?  Write these questions on a sticky note and post it where you’ll run across them frequently – your desk, your, bathroom mirror, your smartphone. 

Want to help your team or co-workers make more informed decisions?  Situation Expert is a solution that sits alongside your existing systems to help your workforce made better decisions and develop consequence muscle memory.  Contact us to learn how Situation Expert can be a fit for your organization.


Jonathan Workman

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”

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