‘Thinking out of the box’ was one of the biggest clichés and buzzwords in business…about 20 years ago! Still, many businesses pay consultants to tell them exactly that. The reminder is useful because we often get trapped in our own patterns.
This idea became a bit over-glorified because of some of the Cinderella-esque comeback stories of businesses prospering after implementing it. That led to an explosion in the supply of aspiring entrepreneurs while abusing the word ‘creative’ and ‘innovative’ all in the name of ‘thinking differently’ and ending up in short lived businesses. Today, we tend to see most new ideas and concepts as either cheap or gimmicky. However, we also see companies cornering entire market shares with exciting new ideas.
The Software Of Counter-intuity
For example, the late Steve Jobs is credited as one of the most successful and inspiring CEOs in the world because he developed new ways of integrating technology into our lives in an aesthetic yet functional way. He does this by mis-matching; taking the counter intuitive route to what most people in the computer industry intuitively are doing. He went against what most trends were pointing to and either used existing technology in a different way or think of something totally new to get ahead, which sometimes meant his employees would come up with technology that never existed before!
Mis-matching allowed him to look at all the information available and see where else he could go and what else he could come up with. If you’re a fan of Tony Buzan, this would be similar to lateral thinking. But what is important to understand here is that simply thinking this way didn’t force the universe into alignment to solve all the other problems. He still needed to look at all the new ideas and options he now had, make decisions and take action. Well, that’s great. So what does this have to do with being an entrepreneur’s sparring partner?
The Mis-Matcher’s Role
If you’re not already in the habit of looking at things counter-intuitively, having a mis-matcher’s unique way of looking at things may be invaluable as a sparring partner; Someone who can dispassionately and logically argue counter points in an exercise of ‘intellectual jousting’.
Usually, that is what meetings are for – to provide a platform for both point and counter point so management can make educated decisions. But if you have a room full of ‘bobbleheads’, there is a good chance you aren’t being provided with the whole picture. And this is one of the clear disadvantages many businesses face particularly in most parts here in Asia, where there is sometimes an unconscious stigma associated to anyone who disagrees within authority or the majority, and then marginalising them as a nuisance or ‘sour lemon’.
‘Excellent leadership muscle’ isn’t built by having things go perfectly every time. To reference the idiom of ‘making lemonade if you are given lemons to work with’, excellent leaders will utilise a mis-matcher’s ability to their advantage.
So before you rule out all the resident ‘party-poopers’ from a meeting just because you don’t like them, remember that their inherently unique value to see and think counter-intuitively could be a huge gain into a different insight; perhaps lead to a better overview, or to new options that perhaps no one else saw because they were too busy blindly agreeing. The value of a good sparring partner is in helping you sharpen your thinking and gain the insights that make you a higher quality leader.
For other useful tips and other life changing ideas, please read our other blogs and learn the #AuthenticNLP™ with NaviGo® NLP Center.