There is plenty of evidence around us that demonstrates us we are living though some unprecedented challenges to our conventional way of thinking. Just about the only thing we can say for certain about the future is that what will happen is uncertain. So, now more than ever, we need to stop and think about the way we think about things, if new thinking is to occur.
I have always been fascinated by the human minds capacity to think differently when stimulated to do so. It is this ability that enables us to continue to innovate and find creative solutions to seemingly intransigent problems. As usual Einstein said it best when he said; “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
The ability of a leader and their team to think differently is one of the key abilities required to grow and succeed sustainably. In my role as a leadership team coach I have always been interested in what it takes to tackle entrenched mind-sets, thoughts that have been honed through long years of often successful experience and now dominate how people think around here.
As we concluded in our book ‘Strategy, Paradigms and Cowdung – the quest for new strategic space’ nothing breeds failure like success. The successful leader has learned that the way they do things works, so why change? Even when evidence grows to say the rate of success is falling, or even reversing, the prevailing paradigm of what it takes to succeed clings on and possesses the mind and will need to be prised out if new thinking is to flourish and take hold.
The 3 key ingredients
- The first is ‘Expertise’ – the technical, procedural and intellectual knowledge required to understand the fundamentals of the problem or opportunity under review. This is often the dominant ingredient and like too much garlic can ruin the dish if used in excess.
- The second ingredient is ‘Flexibility of Thought’ the capacity of the people involved to be able to use their imagination and step outside their prevailing mind-set. This is where an external facilitator can earn their corn by injecting exercises and experiences designed to gently unsettle the certainty of the prevailing mind-set, unbalancing the thinking process and tickling the intellect by piquing curiosity. Re-discovering the child-like mental state of curiosity and fun is the desired state for new thinking to occur as after all a child between the ages of 0 and 4 learn at an exponential rate and make the rate of learning attained by most adults look positively pedestrian!
- The Final ingredient is ‘Motivation’ the desire to solve the problem. It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention and I have found that the ability to make a group care about the challenge is a must have inclusion in any ideation session I facilitate. It is important to note that motivation is an emotion so to inflame this in a group it is necessary to step outside of the safe, Power Point led, comfort zone and get participants listening to and involved with the challenge at hand.
All three ingredients are required for new thinking to emerge however the process does require careful management to ensure the ‘Expertise’ mind-set does not kill new thinking dead. New thoughts are ethereal and precious and they need to draw breath before they meet the brutal reality of what the experts believe is the art of the possible around here!
If you are serious about injecting some new thinking into your organisation you will more than likely have to look outside and observe what strange things are happening in the world around you that are gently rattling your well-honed view of the world. These days you do not have to look too far!
If you are interested in how I can help you develop some outside in thinking in your organisation then please get in touch and I will explore if we can re-shape the art of your possible.