The Holmsian Hat

We wear many hats.

We depend on these hats for our perspectives. We wear learning hats, teaching hats, and even hats that help us see out into the future.

I know each hat I have ever worn, having broken each one in the best I could before trading it in. I could describe each one, but in turn I would be describing who I was at the time I wore it. And so it is with each hat I see on others’ heads. Their hats fit them and help to show us who they are and what they care about. Is the hat well worn but dignified, or is it crisp and never blemished with brow sweat? These are the questions I ask as I inspect each new hat I come across.

And it is in this inspection that intricacies arise. The stains of certain projects come into focus, and we start to see just where they have been. It is almost as if we see directly through the hats to the heads underneath, watching as the thoughts and decisions lead the hats and their owners in new directions.

One of my favorite hats, though, is the one worn by Pete Piccolo, Deputy Director of OSRI. I imagine it has plaid or argyle, stylish and set straight on his head, but perhaps pushed forward just slightly, hinting at his interest to move forward. I see this hat enabling him to, like Sherlock Holmes, know the exact problem he wants to solve. As he scrawls across a page in the meeting creating a diagram to make sense of it all, his “Holmesian” hat allows him to ask just the right questions.

Beyond his hat, I keep coming back to what makes him and his team so valuable. They focus on innovation they focus on ways of doing things that are new or different. But it isn’t in terms of demolishing or destroying things. It is much more about truly seeking and deciphering and understanding and thinking.

And, when he wears his sleuthing hat, he is able to see the root cause of the problem plaguing you, finding the solution somehow from the ether around him. He is a detective with the capacity to open an issue and dig around inside seeking to find what no one else could.

Sometimes, we did not need the things we think we need. Sometimes we don’t need to go down the road with our own hats, brushing away our sweat and tears and straining against what we believe is important. Rather, sometimes we only need a different type of hat, and someone who can wear that hat with integrity.

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