Momentum for action on racial equity has continued to build around the world, and we like many others have spent the past few weeks in an ongoing discussion on what else we can do to help contribute to positive change. It remains remarkably difficult for organizations to have uncomfortable conversations about racial bias, so as a first step we’re spreading awareness of how cognitive diversity can be used as a powerful device to break down the walls in these conversations.
For many, the word “diversity” brings up images of staid EEOC training or well-intended but not necessarily critical programs—the “have-to-dos” that don’t get much buy-in or enthusiastic support across the business. So it’s probably not the first word that comes to mind when you’re talking about innovation.
But here’s why it should be.
Want to know what your personality is? Or find out your “inner truth”? How about which “Game of Thrones” character you are? There are plenty of employee assessments and online quizzes out there that will reveal what box, character, style or type you fall into—the answer to the question: Am I a “this” or am I a “that”?
But when it comes to the HBDI®, we talk in terms of thinking preferences. No one is strictly a “this” or a “that,” because everyone has access to their whole brain, regardless of what your preferences are. You simply prefer (and in some cases, actively avoid) certain kinds of thinking over others.
So, what exactly do we mean by thinking preference? Well, it might be easier to start by explaining what a preference is not.
The other day, a friend shared with me this nightly after-dinner routine at her house: She and her husband clear the table. She loads the dishwasher. She leaves the kitchen. He stays behind and rearranges all the dishes in the dishwasher.
“He always complains about how I load it,” she told me. “He says I don’t use the space efficiently enough. So we just have to run it more often! I’d rather do that than spend all day trying to organize every dish in there just so.”
I’m not going to weigh in on who’s loading the dishwasher correctly, but I do get where he’s coming from. There’s nothing more annoying than watching someone tackle a task when you know there’s a better way. No matter what you say or do, they won’t listen to reason, even though your way is the more precise way. Or the more efficient way...or thoughtful...or creative...
You know, the right way.
Sometimes, it feels like we spend a lot of energy trying to make sense of each other and the world around us. Whether we’re navigating the dishwasher protocols of our significant others, delegating a task to a direct report at work, or trying to find our way to the solution to a nagging business challenge, one thing is clear: Other people don’t always do things the way we would do them. And that can be pretty irritating.
The question is, why do people approach tasks, problems, decisions, ideas, and, yes, even the dishwasher, in completely different ways? Why do we all take different routes to the same destination?
No one listens! It’s one of the most common complaints across workplaces, industries, jobs, even in our personal lives. It doesn’t matter how much detail we give or how many times we say things, it seems like people keep coming back with questions about things we’ve already addressed.
So, how can you improve communications and resolve this annoying problem? One piece of advice you’ve likely heard is to over-communicate if you really want people to listen to you. Explain it again and again. Keep hammering away at it until you break through.
Have you tried that? Had any luck with it?
My guess is they’re still not listening to you.
In studies of global business leaders and CEOs, “creativity” routinely shows up as one of the top qualities for effective leaders. But you don’t even have to read the studies to know that people value creativity in business. We talk about emulating the Steve Jobs’s of the world, the new technology innovators, those who come up with clever solutions or new products that transform entire markets and industries. In fact, CEOs have been making speeches proclaiming a “fresh commitment to creativity” and urging an entrepreneurial approach to business for decades.
So why are the results so consistently disappointing? What’s holding back creativity in business?
Are we just not that creative?
Teams have never been more important in business. But with the demands and complexities of today’s work environment—not to mention the challenges of working with global, remote or regularly changing team members—working in a team isn’t always easy.
A great team is a “brain trust” of diverse thinkers, one that’s greater than the sum of its parts. They’re collaborators you can count on to bring new perspectives to the table, listen to and value your ideas, and stay accountable to common goals, especially when the pressure heats up.
Since March 13-19 is Brain Awareness Week (BAW), we thought it was the perfect time to compile a few of our favorite thinking-related tips and “brain hacks”—some “collected intelligence,” so to speak. And since we’re celebrating our 35th anniversary this year, we had a nice number to shoot for as we put together our list.
Start celebrating Brain Awareness Week with the 7 tips below, and then be sure to download the full list (at the end of this post) of 35 tips and ideas shared by our global network of HBDI® Practitioners and colleagues.
For most of our lives, we’ve been told that to be a success you need to become an expert. Find your sweet spot—what you’ll major in, your career path, what you’ll be when you “grow up”—and then get great at that one special thing you do.
But industries are evolving faster than ever. Specializations are becoming outdated. Single-mindedness is closing us off from opportunity. The question is, how can you become future ready when “what you know” won’t necessary apply and, in fact, might be blocking your view and ability to learn?
Sometimes it takes a big, “aha” moment to answer that question. In her new TEDx Talk, Think Like Your Future Depends On It, Because it Does (below), Ann Herrmann-Nehdi opens up about an intense moment in her life that changed everything—and how that changed everything else.
All through your life, you’re making all kinds of decisions. And whether consciously or not, you make those decisions by following a personal decision-making process—one that has developed over the years and become a consistent pattern that is grounded in your thinking preferences.
The buying decision, like any decision someone makes, is also directly related to the way a person thinks. It only stands to reason, then, that if you can get inside your customer’s head and have a better understanding of how they think—what they focus on, what catches their attention and how they got through the process of thinking through a decision—then you’ll be way ahead of the game when you’re in a selling situation.