liberating cognitive resources

Updated: Apr 25

One way to empower the full cognitive potential of others is by actively seeking out ways to reduce or eliminate unnecessary cognitive demands. Doing so can be particularly valuable when the particular task, interaction, or process in question impacts many.

We might consider, for example, the cumulative cognitive capacity that has been diverted to navigating the process of obtaining a COVID vaccine. In the U.S., this was especially fraught in the early stages of vaccine availability. Without a coordinated and transparent national or global approach, we squandered a tremendous, arguably unconscionable amount of cognitive potential. For so very many people, simply trying to figure out how to get a vaccine usurped valuable mental energy that could have been meaningfully invested in any of a number of other directions. Add to that the cognitive resources expended by those aiming to distribute vaccines and the sum total of cognitive resources unnecessarily diverted only grows.

What cognitive resources and for how many might a carefully coordinated design process for vaccine roll out and an effective communication plan have liberated? What might that cognitive potential, directed in other meaningful directions in a time of global crisis, have yielded?

We can ask similar questions of so many other processes, policies, and interactions in our lives. What would each look like—what could each look like—if we genuinely prioritized our individual and collective cognitive potential? We should ask such questions. More importantly, we should ask such questions in advance toward a goal of cognitively-kind design.

Rather than retrospectively lamenting what has been lost, let's be proactively cognitively kind...and then celebrate what we have made possible.

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