I have been pondering the question about genius thinking. Are some people considered to be geniuses, or do people attain genius-level thinking? In other words, is genius thinking a genetic gift, or is genius a level of thinking we can achieve? If it is something to attain, how do we sustain that level of thinking? Let us dig into these questions and get our minds dirty.
Mary is always late for work, so she must not care about her job. Chet takes too many breaks. He is lazy. Your son still has not cleaned his room after you told him to do so twice. He is ignoring you. Do any of these sound familiar? If so, you are normal.
Do you feel handcuffed to your desk by a toxic employee; imprisoned by an invisible bond? Have corporate human resource policies made terminations so tricky and cumbersome that they are not worth your time and effort? You are not alone in your misery. Whether the cuffs are literal or metaphorical, far too many leaders feel impotent when managing a business team today. Fear of litigation and increasing corporate bureaucracy are making the lives of contemporary managers challenging. One manager stated terminations are on hold due to the pandemic and subsequent WFH (work from home) necessity. That's right. Covid is now the excuse for avoiding necessary terminations.
Determining how your employees view your business is essential. It is necessary if you are in a highly-competitive market for talent. Do they see the company serving a particular mission? Or, do they know the business as a collective group of mercenaries for hire. Consider these questions carefully. If you operate a broader mission such as clean food or smarter babies, you develop a different bond with your team. If you only seek profitability or business success, you are a mercenary.
Organizations and customers are rarely on the same page regarding value (utility) and cost. There are often vastly different perceptions on both sides of any purchase. Sellers tend to equate the size of the customer's wallet with their own. Buyers, on the other hand, buy for reasons other than price more often than sellers realize. For example, buyers often opt for convenience over price. Finally, the difference (delta) in price between two competing options is highly subjective in any non-commodity market.
In his recent book, Simon Sinek refers to the infinite games of life. We often characterize facets of life as finite, meaning they have an end. There is no ending to fitness or intelligence. Likewise, there is no ending in the game of business. You do not wake up one day and realize the game is over. You have won the game of business. The game persists. You may achieve business milestones such as number one in your market or a million dollars in revenue. The game does not end; the game continues.
Times are changing so fast. Business is changing even more quickly. The pandemic accelerated the digitization of industry six years in a matter of six months. That is correct. What would have happened over the next six years is here now. How does anyone keep pace with this change and adapt quickly?
Many businesses talk about culture, or they aspire to create or achieve a particular culture. What does this mean anyway? Don't all organizations already have a culture? It may not be the culture they desire, but something is already present as an individual personality. There is no such thing as an absent company culture.
Overcoming status quo bias can be a daunting task for leaders. According to the National Academy of Sciences, people tend to accept the status quo when faced with a complicated decision. One factor driving this status quo bias is the difficulty of the decision process. The brain mechanisms involved in making difficult decisions involving a status quo are significant. They operationally define a status quo bias as suboptimal acceptance of a default choice. This thinking is a narrow framing of the definition, in my opinion. Over time, I believe leaders tend to accept the status quo as optimal more so than suboptimal. In other words, you adopt the status quo as appropriate. This logic is the inherent problem for leaders in many organizations.
It is easy to blame people when they fail to perform. It is the go-to for many. However, as a leader you must consider your part of the equation. What have you done to minimize the mental friction in order for the team to understand and take action? How many mental calories do your people need to consume to behave in the manner you desire? In other words, how well do you simplify your vision or instruction to get what you need or want? This self-examination is powerful and can accelerate the results you desire. What if you are the problem because your mind's clear vision is challenging for others to see and make actionable? How can you, as the leader, eliminate or minimize external causes of mental friction? Let's take a look.
Why do you keep doing that? Do you have behavior patterns that you want to stop? If you are like most people, you struggle with behavior (or lack thereof) holding you back or limiting success in various life areas. You want to lose weight, but you cannot ignore the donuts at the office. You want to save money, but you cannot resist the sale at the electronics store. This type of cognitive dissonance is present in everyone. You are not alone, and you are not dysfunctional. You are human.
Do you see opportunities and admire the potential from the safety of your comfort zone (earth)? Or, do you see an opportunity (space) and get an irresistible urge to leap? As we begin in 2021, ask yourself a powerful question. Am I an astronaut or an astronomer?