...is the Wellspring of Innovation
Last month, we wrote about thinking differently as a means to develop new habits and behaviors in order to continuously evolve as business leaders. Based on the response from that article, we decided to continue the theme and expand on it through the lens of diversity and critical thinking. The title inspiration comes from multiple articles and social media posts we came across in our research for this article. The essence is leaders must think different to do different. So, let’s break it down on how leaders can think different.
- Demographics vs. Psychographics ~ The essence of truly understanding diversity of thought, or cognitive diversity as its also referred to, is leaders recognizing different attitudes people hold. A team can look diverse based on demographics related to age, gender, race, education, etc. However, if the diverse demographics converge into a single psychographic based on similar attitudes, then the full value of diversity is not fully realized. Diverse psychographics related to attitudes, beliefs, values and personality, etc. can be the single best strategy to combat the real enemy of business – the status quo!
- Importance of Critical Thinking ~ We define critical thinking as, “A process where leaders question their own assumptions, as well as those of others, using a mix of research, analysis, questioning and exploring new ideas to inform in a way not restricted by the subjective perspectives of peers and/or the status quo”. Effective business leaders are those who can challenge their own, and others, prevailing assumptions and perceptions about how the business must evolve. In order for this to work, however, there must be a high level of psychological safety within the business culture. Based on Tim Clark’s book, “The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety”, the highest stage is Challenger Safety which is the level in which leaders and their teams challenge the status quo with high intellectual friction and low social friction!
- Innovation from Adaptability ~ Innovation is classically defined as doing things differently. We also know that in order to do different, leaders must think different. We have always viewed thinking different through the lens of adaptability. Every organization we led in our business career was grounded in a culture of adaptability. We define adaptability as the quality to adjust to new conditions or the capacity to be modified for new purpose. Treating adaptability as a critical attitude for success and embedding it into the culture, leaders have the ready-made platform to innovate in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment they operate in!
One of our favorite quotes is, “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought” by the Nobel Laureate, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi. It summarizes the essence of the alignment between the importance of a leader leveraging cognitive diversity applied critically to identify where the business can adapt and innovate for sustainable success!
How are you thinking different about leading your business? If you’re not sure, we can help.