Last Sunday, the BBC broadcasted the final episode of series 3 of Sherlock Holmes. Whilst Sherlock had fallen of a roof in the last episode of series 2, he suddenly revived and 3 new episodes were given to us.  All the fans were really thrilled by his masters’ return. Visual TV effects made it possible to make the thinking of Sherlock more visible to us watching television. What he is seeing, observing or maybe even was thinking, was made known to us, in a fast pace in small letters or other animations. And by doing that, we got a powerful insight in the brain of a great problem solver. Is it nature or could it be nurture? Three key lessons I took from watching Holmes:

The devil is in the detail

Whilst Watson is jumping often jumping to conclusions, Sherlock is paying attention to every detail he notices. He is using all his senses to find remarkable information. For example, when studying a letter from the so-called killer, he not only looks at the handwriting, he also smells at the letter (and notices a womans perfume, what does that mean?). At KT, in order to get the deviation description right, we ask the question: what can we see, hear, feel, taste, smell, that tells us there is a deviation. Use all our senses and be specific as possible.

Focus and attention

Our minds are made to wander, that is the resting state. That’s because we think about possible predators. When working with experts to solve an issue, minds wander to the preferred possible cause in their mind and preferably the experts want to jump to action to confirm their thinking is right. Known as trial and error. Holmes however knows what and how to observe and what details to focus on.  And before he is doing that, he always makes a plan or strategy to make sure his actions are effective. He takes the time to focus,  strangely enough by some unrelated activities like playing the violin or smoking three pipes. At KT we train people to focus on the process, in order to think, observe and talk more clearly.

Be inclusive and persistent.

Holmes has trained his brain to be sceptical and inquisitive. When an untrained (lazy, Watson) brain is taking in information, it is easily satisfied and drawing conclusion. However for Holmes seeing is not observing. Observing is to learn to separate situation from interpretation, yourself from what you’re seeing. It is avoiding all the brain pitfalls (see my previous blog) by re-asking questions and challenging himself. He learned that some information is always available, but some is always silent – and it will remain silent unless we actively stir it up. (Holmes observes: why didn’t the dog bark? He should have normally done, unless…). At KT, we question to the void, till no answers can be given. Like a detective?

Watching Sherlock Holmes becomes a delight, a learning process.  To think like Sherlock Holmes needs motivation and practice. So nurture?


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