Think Wrong: To conquer biology and culture to change the way things are to how they might be. 

 

Why Driving Change Is Hard

Two powerful forces work against us—biology and culture.

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All of us find ourselves on the predictable path of how things have been, how things are, and how they will be. This status quo is forged by the synaptic connections in our brains and our cultural beliefs, biases, orthodoxies, and assumptions.


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The human brain is amazing. It locks in what we experience and learn on the fly. This learning builds neural pathways that enable us to make quick, shortcut decisions and to take action without thinking or having to relearn simple tasks. This is good. Imagine if we had to Google “How to brush my teeth” every morning.

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All of us find ourselves on the predictable path of how things have been, how things are, and how they will be. This status quo is forged by the synaptic connections in our brains and our cultural beliefs, biases, orthodoxies, and assumptions.


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The complications that arise from how we’re biologically wired are compounded when a collection of brains works this way. Group think becomes group belief. Group belief becomes dominant culture. What’s acceptable, normal, and expected conspires against anything that lies outside the shared beliefs, biases, orthodoxies, and assumptions of the organization, community, tribe, state, or nation.

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Our best leaders and employees fight the powerful biological and cultural forces that conspire to force them back onto the predictable path. They find ways to blaze a bold path—and to resist snapping back to business as usual—when it matters most. 

To keep from losing to the norm, we need to be able to deflect from the status quo and protect ourselves from the biological and cultural forces trying to pull us back in.

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If we want to go from A to Steaming Round Thing, we need to trick our brains. We need to let go of our beliefs, biases, orthodoxies, and assumptions. We need to start solving from a brand-new place. We need to unleash our inner Picassos.


Practice Mismatch.

Right tools. Wrong problem.

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It’s the norm to assert schools, non-profits, government agencies, and so on should adopt business practices. Places of higher learning perpetuate this through the language, frameworks, tools, and techniques they teach. The business obsession with best practices, optimization, ROI, and metrics has become the standard by which we’re told we should measure ourselves and our impact. 

When we are certain which problem to tackle, and we know how to solve it, Think Right Practices are useful. They help eliminate waste, improve quality, scale solutions, and increase productivity.

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But Think Right Practices provide the answer to a very small subset of challenges—those for which we are certain of the problem and know the solution. Thinking right is wrong when we’re seeking solutions beyond the status quo.

When it comes to discovery, innovation, and changing the game, adopting the mindset of a scientist or an artist with a hypothesis is much more likely to yield insights and new possibilities than conventional, think right business practices.

To successfully navigate the uncertain and unknown, we need a new language, new frameworks, new techniques, and new tools.

Ready to put the frameworks to work?