When did you last finish reading a book and think, “What a pity I’ve finished that brilliant book already”? Perhaps you were even tempted to start at page one all over again? This might happen to you when you finish "Think Again" by Adam Grant. Our executive partner, Maria Jose, recently posted her view on LinkedIn.
In addition to the well-expressed statements facilitating our understanding of important insights into rethinking in various settings, Grant is also aware that, "…if a topic is important enough to deserve an entire book, it shouldn't end. It should be open-ended". He therefore provided a final chapter encouraging his audience to take up rethinking as a continuous practice.
Providing giveaways that last
It seems that Grant is perfectly aware how difficult behavioral change is for us, no matter how many well-researched facts point to the evident need for change. Scientific thinking is based on collecting and analyzing relevant information i.e. data that might conflict with our own views and enable us to gain insights about what we don't know and build opinions based on constructive debates. Scientific thinking is essentially the foundation for being able to rethink in the first place.
This approach caused us to rethink as well. What if we condense our content into digestible and easy-to-buy products with obvious value creation and unlearn the consulting business we have been used to for so many years? Read our initial thoughts on our own disruption in this following BLOG post "Transformation starts in our own backyard".
Open-ended reading - then take notes
Even the notes are worth scanning., particularly if seeking insights to help us avoid thinking that our new products are exactly what humankind is waiting for. We came across one reference we’ve decided to highlight - an article published in 1981 about rigidity effects in organizational behavior. This article describes how threats impact on the search for information and control processing in groups, organizations and, particularly, leadership styles.
Despite today's possibilities in accessing information and the developments we have seen in leadership styles, there is still very much truth in the main conclusions of this article:
Firstly, searching for information will occur quickly following a first stage of threat recognition to confirm decisions that have already been taken and implemented. To put it another way, these decisions will probably never be reconsidered, even if they didn’t lead to great success.
Secondly, in threatening situations, control processes become a stabilizing feature and are often standardized, routined and formalized.
Now, imagine an organization or a group is facing an unprecedented threat that requires different approaches i.e. asking a different group of experts or consulting new information sources - a threat that may require more freedom rather than over-formalized control. Apparently, we tend to stick to known methods and tools. Without a doubt, this article (among others) greatly confirms the importance of unlearning to avoid becoming ignorant. With changes (either predictable or totally unforeseen) coming much faster than in the past. We need to be prepared to question our beliefs more than ever before.
Lifelong learning for mental agility
Our final remarks on Adam Grant's work are dedicated to lifelong learning, which helps us to remain mentally agile and embrace change, although it might result in unpredictability and in being wrong on occasions, because facts previously considered to be right may have changed. Only then might we be able to "embrace the joy of being wrong" and "focus less on proving ourselves - and more on improving ourselves."