Thinking differently

N°278b – Synopsis (8p.) – Open-mindedness
Thinking differently
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We all have a natural preference for what is familiar to us. Yet, to adapt to circumstances, companies and their staff must constantly reinvent themselves, which requires that they get out of their usual thinking patterns. How can you nurture this healthy habit?

“Think different”, Apple suggested to its fans at the end of the 90’s. What was then merely an advertising slogan now comes across as a mantra in the “agile era”—a call applicable to all levels of organizations, at a time when they are forced to transform themselves, often deeply, and more frequently than ever.

Indeed, our economy has embarked on an unprecedented transformation, one destined to continue in the decades to come. Digitalization, Big Data and advancements in automation will restructure numerous sectors of business activity. Some industries are bound to disappear, others to completely reinvent themselves. A large number of tasks currently performed by humans will be taken over by machines. According to a 2017 survey by McKinsey, 14% of workers will need to change occupations by 2030. Under these circumstances, staff members—as well as organizations—will see their ability to adapt put under considerable pressure!

As we know, getting concepts, capabilities or usual practices to evolve is not a natural trait of humanity. According to cognitive scientists, the explanation lies in the fact that our brain seeks to preserve its resources. Every self-questioning is costly. Add to this some social bias: we are generally reluctant to be the one who disrupts group harmony. Displaying originality, asking disturbing questions, defending a marginal point of view are behaviors that expose us.

Fortunately, other mechanisms counterbalance these hindrances and are progress drivers. For example, the pleasure of making discoveries or of solving problems. Or the emulation occurring in team dynamics that can lead us to voluntarily step out of our comfort zone. This is the type of thinking that companies today are relying on to encourage mental flexibility in their staff. Rightly so: a study by Stanford University has shown that the presence of this trait among staff is an important factor in performance.

Encouraging everyone to adapt by thinking differently has become a major challenge. But how can you encourage this healthy habit?

In this synopsis:

- Cultivate the desire to learn among your staff
- Develop the capacity to think differently
- Taking your time, an approach that needs reinstating

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