Greetings to All,
There are about 150 days left to complete your 2016 goals.
How are you doing? What do you need to do more of and what
do you need to do less of? This month we will take a look
at Thinking Styles. If you change your thinking you will change
| What's Your Thinking Style?
What's your thinking style? Just like we have personality preferences
for introversion and extroversion, we also have preferred ways of
thinking about problems.
Typically, we handle problems in a tried and true way that were
comfortable with. We dont even know we have a thinking style
because its just who we are, yet we do have different ways of
thinking. In fact, we may have six or seven different styles of seeking
Understanding how you think and how your teammates think could be
essential for groups who must work together effectively. When you
consider successful teams--though they are measured by what they produce--they
function better when they have diverse thinking styles.
Research shows that it is ultimately how teams think together that
most determine their performance. Instead of assigning groups based
on personality traits, skills and strengths, managers might want to
evaluate how potential members think.
| What Is a Thinking Style?
According to Pearson Assessments, thinking styles are positive habits
that contribute to better critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making.
While no one thinking style is better than another, a balance of the
various types results in better decision-making. Their online self-assessment
measures how individuals use seven different approaches to thinking:
- Analytical: clear thinking, orderly and rational
- Inquisitive: curious, alert and interested in the surrounding
- Insightful: prudent, humble, reflective and strategic
- Open-minded: intellectually tolerant and fair-minded
- Systematic: conceptual, process-oriented and intuitive
- Timely: efficient, reliable and responsive
- Truth-seeking: independent, tough-minded and skeptical
a self-assessment you can take for free. Knowing your preferred
style will help you approach problems and decisions with the right
mindset. Which of these best describes your habitual thinking style?
Another expert, Edward De Bono, describes thinking styles in
terms of six colored hats. With the concepts of Professor De Bono
published in Six Thinking Hats, you explore six different views of
a problem by putting on an imaginary hat for each perspective.
This method helps you explore a problem more robustly to get unstuck
from your habitual style of thinking. Its a powerful way
for teams to look at different angles of the problem. The metaphor
of different thinking hats helps people explore alternative or even
The six thinking hats of De Bono are:
- White Hat the facts and figures
- Red Hat the emotional view
- Black Hat the devils advocate
- Yellow Hat the positive side
- Green Hat the creative side
- Blue Hat the organizing view
It’s easy to change hats – at least metaphorically and temporarily.
The experience can alter our views dramatically. Here are some key
What color is your hat?
- By switching hats, you switch perspective.
- Its easier to ask people to wear another hat than to
tell them to change their thinking.
- You can reduce meeting time spent arguing and, instead, engage
in constructive dialogue.
- You can balance out the needs of different styles.
| Two-Dimensional Thinking Patterns
The way we approach problems and make decisions is complex, perhaps
more so than simply identifying with six or seven distinct styles.
There's an interesting article about this from Harvard Business
Review, November 25, 2015: "What
Kind of Thinker Are You?" by Mark Bonchek and Elisa Steele.
|"... in todays marketplace, the smartest companies arent
those that necessarily out-produce the competition. Instead,
its the organizations that outthink them. And while there
are plenty of tools that help us quickly understand what our
teammates do, its harder to tell how they think.
~ Mark Bonchek and Elisa Steele
Only one aspect of collaboration is getting people aligned in what
they do; the other is getting them aligned in how they think. After
a lot of co-creation and trial and error, the authors, Bonchek and
Steele, developed a three-step method for identifying thinking styles
that delivers practical and meaningful results.
- Focus. The first step is to identify the focus of
your thinking in a particular context or setting. Do you tend
to pay the most attention to ideas, process, action, or relationships?
- Orientation. The next step is to notice whether your
orientation in that setting swings toward the micro or the macro
the details or the big picture.
- The third step is to combine these two dimensions and
see the thinking style at work in whatever context or setting
| Whats your workplace thinking style?
First choose your usual areas of focus. Then match that to whether
you tend to consider the big-picture view or the details.
For example, on the big picture, or macro, orientation:
Across the micro, or detail, orientation:
- Explorer thinking is about generating creative ideas.
- Planner thinking is about designing effective systems.
- Energizer thinking is about mobilizing people into action.
- Connector thinking is about building and strengthening
It make sense that if we are going to form a team that works well
together, we should ensure diversity in thinking while paying attention
to alignment of purpose. According to the authors:
- Expert thinking is about achieving objectivity and insight.
- Optimizer thinking is about improving productivity and
- Producer thinking is about achieving completion and
- Coach thinking is about cultivating people and potential.
|As a real-world demonstration, one company had their entire
leadership team identify their thinking styles as managers and
leaders. Looking at a heat map of the results, they realized
they had a lot of big-picture Explorer thinking and a lot of
Action thinking (Energizer and Producer), but very little Process
thinking (Planner and Optimizer). The team was strong at coming
up with big ideas and mobilizing everyone into action, but weak
at working out the details and making things run efficiently.
Whether or not we can precisely define thinking style is not the point. When working in corporations with people who need to collaborate effectively, we benefit greatly when we raise our awareness of thinking styles. That in itself will help us understand ourselves and others better.
Thank you to those readers that
have referred me to their friends and family. I really appreciate
your kind thoughts. I currently have room for about 3 more coaching
clients. If you know of anyone who would like to try coaching,
please send them my way. Have a great month.
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