Not every thought you have will be (or can be) original. As satirist Ambrose Bierce said, “there is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don’t know.” Shared thinking is often a combination of several other forms. With this, you can combine two or more ideas or embellish the thinking of others. Virtually all technological advances are the result of such shared thinking.
We can be prisoners of our thinking or be can be liberated and propelled by our thinking. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, endured the atrocities of several Nazi concentration camps by redirecting his thinking from the suffering around him to the meaning of his existence. He embodied the truism that although we cannot control our circumstances we can control our response to them. Compared to Frankl’s situation, the typical change or transformation effort is a walk in the park.
So you want to have a positive impact in your organization? You want to help incubate ideas and innovations that really make a difference? You want to influence people to embrace change rather than resist it? Then resolve not to behave like the Saints, the Ain’ts, and the Complaints we see in many organizations. Read more
Legions of writers – from Dale Carnegie to Napoleon Hill to Norman Vincent Peale to Anthony Robbins – have touted the value of positive mental attitude. Scores of rah-rah speakers evangelize on the doctrine of believing in ourselves.
All of that is important, but sound thinking requires more than a rosy outlook and a dose of self esteem. Sound thinking requires a mindset – or orientation – that’s both receptive to fresh (even contrary) ideas and accepting of the notion that most of us can be more creative than we’ve ever dreamed.
When Carol Dweck was a sixth-grader at P.S. 153 in Brooklyn, New York, she experienced something that motivated her to explore why some people view intelligence as a fixed trait while others embrace it as a quality that can be developed and expanded.
Young Carol’s teacher seated the students around the classroom according to their IQ scores. The boys and girls who didn’t have the highest IQs were not trusted to carry the flag during school assemblies. They weren’t even allowed to clap erasers or wash the chalkboard or take a note to the principal. Read more
Jim Rainey was a man with a mission.
As the first outsider to be appointed president and CEO of Farmland Industries, he was charged with the task of returning this agribusiness giant to profitability.
Resuscitating a giant is always a mammoth undertaking, and this would be an especially tough challenge. Farmland’s business units – ranging from fertilizer and pork processing to grain, petroleum refining and ag chemicals – were test enough. But the nature of Farmland’s federated structure was a mixed blessing: the company was owned by more than 2,000 local associations or “co-ops” in 19 states. Because these same 2,000 local co-ops were also Farmland’s primary customers, a natural conflict of interest ensued. As owners, the co-ops wanted high profits. As customers, they wanted low prices. Read more
Rockville, MD – Trust is the operating system of every organizational culture, and it’s especially important for people who regulate and lead in industries where safety and accountability are the primary values. That was the keynote message by Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Duncan, a leading authority in organizational effectiveness, said trust is much more than a nice-to-have social virtue. It’s a competency that can be taught, learned, and improved.
“A big idea here is that low trust is a tax and high trust is a dividend,” Duncan told NRC leaders in an organization-wide meeting that was televised live to the NRC’s regional offices across the U.S.
“When trust is low, you pay a tax because everything requires more time to accomplish and everything costs more. When trust is high, you receive a dividend because you’re able to get things done faster and at a lower cost.”
My son-in-law Luke teaches at a major university, one that takes trust and honor very seriously. But even in this principle-centered environment, some students cheat. As a professor, Luke believes his role is to teach the whole person, not just course content. He’s not interested in playing ethics cop. He simply wants to teach his students to engage in trustworthy behavior because it’s the right thing to do.
At the beginning of each semester, Luke rolls out the curriculum for the entire term. This includes assigning term papers on a wide range of topics. These are not the typical “research” papers. These personal essays are intended to help develop the students’ analytical skills – in short, teach them how to think for themselves. Read more