share your thought process

Why you should tell your colleagues how you come up with your ideas

share your thought process

As the leader of your organization, do you ever think about how you come up with your ideas? Do you think about what your preferred creative style is? Do you think about how you could improve your thinking? Do you think about how you could improve your organization’s thinking?

When going through the creative process to arrive at a solution, I ask people to tell how they arrived at their solution. Or, how they got their idea. In detail. Yes, I’m that curious. Tell me how. I could care less about the “what”, I want to know how you came up with it.

What’s your insight? How did you arrive at it?

And, I also advice them to tell others how they got their idea.

Why do I do this?

For a few reasons, which I’ll explain below. But more to the point, I think, especially in a brainstorming situation, people should freely express how they got their ideas. Not just what their idea is. For the most part, people prefer to hear the “what” than the “how”. Yet the “how” provides us with insights.

This is where we can learn a lot more and improve our own thinking.

Whether people accept it or not, as we age we develop a very predictable thinking style. Same goes for companies. The problem is, if we are going to change or improve something, we must become more versatile thinkers. That means we must change our thinking.

The approach, the thought process is where all the good stuff is. Why wait until some author writes his/her book to tell you (years later) what their thought process was? Tell me now. Better yet, tell me all the past “failures” that helped you sharpen your thinking.

Why you should share your thought process

This has important implications. For example, I know some executives who are popular for saying: “Don’t tell me what you are going to do, just do it.” Or ” don’t tell me what you did, keep doing it”. For me, this is the equivalent of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

I think this is stupid because it shows a complete lack of curiosity and respect for the other person. There needs to be a balance between empowerment and feedback. And, the way to do this is simple: if someone showed innovative thinking and did a great job, we need to recognize that person and let them explain to others exactly what they did.

Leadership breeds leadership.

Anyway, here are four reasons why you should share your thought process with others:

  • Sharpen your thinking. Where all think alike, nobody thinks very much. So if you have an out-of-the-box thinker in your group, wouldn’t you like to know how she/he came up with their idea? Don’t you want to get better at thinking? The best way to boost your creative capacity is to have a portfolio of multiple mental models at your disposal.  Ask, ask some more and ask some more.
  • Develop a more diverse thinking style. This goes with the previous point. How many mental models do you have at your disposal? Most people have only one. That’s their view of the world, because it’s the one they’ve always known. But you know what? You can have more. All you have to do is be more empathetic and put yourself in another person’s shoes. Changing minds, hearts, and behaviors is key to innovating and a mind full of differing perspectives is better than one with just one perspective. To amplify your thinking change your internal chip, borrow one, make your own.
  • Ignore the fear of speaking up. For the most part, people are afraid to speak up. To tell it how it is. Telling other how you come up with ideas, your thought process, gives us a great opportunity to get feedback. To start a conversation. To gain confidence. This is why, as Leaders, one of our main jobs is to create an environment where people can express themselves and speak up. The fact that you are putting your thoughts out there is a bonus.
  • To be an innovator is to be wrong. Don’t be afraid of being wrong, we all are.

So there you have it.

The best thinkers use multiple thinking styles, not just one. By sharing your thought process with your friends and colleagues you will begin a very important habit that will only benefit everyone in the long term.

What do you think? Do you share your thought process with others? What have been your results?

Image credit: David Tolmie

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