Metacognition. Sounds a good word and it's certainly an important one. The dictionary defines it as ‘thinking about thinking’, self-awareness, our ability to oversee what we are thinking and doing. It’s not a new idea - the Greeks had it pretty much nailed (literally) to the arch over their oracle at Delphi. If you want advice on how to approach an uncertain future begin with this recipe - ‘Know thyself’.
But it's more than a self-improvement motto. It's a key neural capability, one which has helped us evolve and survive as a species. Even though we’re smart enough to find solutions to problems of a hostile environment there will still be situations where we need to reframe, to question what we’re doing and perhaps try a new tack. And that needs metacognition - the ability to think about how we are thinking.
It’s also rather important in the world of innovation. We’ve learned the hard way that it’s not enough just to pick a promising innovation idea and then press the ‘go’ button and hope. We need the capacity to step back and review, checking whether this is till the right thing to do. And sometimes we need to reset the entire model we use for organizing and managing innovation.
(You can find the transcript to this podcast here)