A Critical Doer capitalizes on opportunities to be better
I attended a trade conference this week that focused on strategic wargaming. During a demonstration session, I listened to an interesting story that happened in another country. The story made a powerful point about the importance of diversity of thought.
The story began with a man who developed a wargame to facilitate critical thinking in an important region of the world. The game was unclassified to allow a diverse audience to participate. On one day, a participant brought his 14 year old son along…”the kid”…and the participants allowed him to play as well.
“The kid’s” first move went against conventional thinking. A regional affairs expert that was facilitating the game pointed this out and most wanted to dismiss “the kid’s” move, but one participant was intrigued and convinced the others to let him play on.
As the game progressed, others began to see what “the kid” was trying to accomplish. By the conclusion, it was apparent “the kid” was onto something. The results of his game play were documented and briefed to senior decision makers who implemented “the kid’s” idea in national policy.
What a powerful example of the importance of gaining fresh perspectives through diversity of thought. Conventional wisdom holds that the longer you study a problem and build depth in a subject area, the more qualified you are to provide solutions, but that’s not 100 percent accurate.
People and organizations that embrace diversity of thought will more often correctly identify “the real question” than those who limit the field of view. Any answer can be correct based upon your view of the problem, but it may not be the best answer because you didn’t figure out the right question.
This may seem intuitively obvious thus far, but it’s not as easy as you may think. There are significant mental barriers you need to recognize and deal with in order to benefit from diversity of thought. The most prevalent barriers to embracing fresh perspectives are education, age, and past experience. While it may be true that education, age, and experience increases the body of knowledge it can also constrict your core belief of what is possible and what is not. A fresh perspective with a less well defined sense of possibility can open avenues that allow the established experts to move forward.
Your challenge is to learn from “the kid’s” story and find a problem or opportunity where a fresh perspective could help make a quantum leap. If nothing else, “the kid” taught us that the closer you are to a problem, the narrower your perspective becomes. Breadth is a premium when trying to determine the question…depth is a premium when figuring out the answer. Give it a try and benefit from simply changing your way of thinking and doing. It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!
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