Noticing what is not happening

There is a Sherlock Holmes story where the famous detective is trying to understand how a race horse disappeared. In it Sherlock is talking to a police officer:

  • Policeman “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
  • Holmes “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
  • Policeman “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
  • Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

That conversation has always struck me, both as a great piece of suspenseful writing and as a reminder of what we often miss.

I often listen closely to what people say, but perhaps I should more often wonder what is not being said. What conversations are we not having, that perhaps would be worth having?

Similarly, when I think of a solution or new initiative, I often focus on what it will solve and sometimes what it will involved in implementing it or what issues it might create; but perhaps I should more often wonder what will be left unsolved, what does not have to change or what seeming issues are not actually caused by implementing the idea.

This week I might focus on the questions

  • What is not happening here, that I would have expected?
  • What are we not talking about, that perhaps we should be?
  • What might I be missing here?

If you want to learn more about the quote, then I think the following article makes for an interesting read.


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