Sometimes, seeing the exact path from one place to another doesn’t solve problems; it creates them.
We crave clarity.
But one kind of clarity comes with a danger.
It’s what we get when we look backwards. It’s the clarity that comes from hindsight.
In hindsight, it’s trivial to see how earlier actions led to bad outcomes. It’s just as easy to criticize the original actors and assume they should have been able to predict the consequences. It’s called “hindsight bias” or the “knew-it-all-along effect.”
The clarity we have in hindsight simply wasn’t there from the beginning.
When we criticize those who made the decisions, we also trigger fear in others who might want to try something new today. “If that’s how they’re going to treat people who try things,” they reason, “then I’m not about to take the risk.”
Here’s a better response when hindsight clarifies the connection between a decision and a bad outcome:
“They made the best decision they knew how to make with the skills and information they had a the time.”
It’s almost always true. And remembering that can help us to show grace after a failure.
So yes, you will have great clarity with the benefit of hindsight.
But it’s often not helpful to share it.