June 2, 1942 – April 13, 2019
Tony Buzan is the person who brought mind mapping into my and many people’s world. He taught us and pushed us to use color and art and our brain processes as we organized ideas and brought out our own creativity. His voice, his British accent, is in my head as I think of all his books that I have read, all the times I recommended his Mind Mapping for Kids book, and all the times I shared the advantages of mind mapping with an audience. Thank you Tony Buzan.
When you multitask you do a mediocre job of each, or worse. Think of the times you were doing email while on a conference call. No one could see you so you thought no one would notice; until, the boss calls out your name with, “what do think of that?”
Oh, oh! Now you have to admit you weren’t paying attention. Now you need to ask your boss for a ‘do over.’
To keep your focus on the meeting you might try listening so hard you are paying attention to the meaning, not just the words.
Or you can mind map the subjects during the meeting.
For sure, you don’t want to be thinking about what you will say when it is your turn. That, too, will mean you won’t be able to answer the boss’s question.
When you are feeling defensive the last thing you might want is to hear more negative comments. But if you show openness to hear what the other person is saying it can change the mood and tone of the ‘conversation.’
It also gives you time to reflect. What is prompting the comments? Why are you feeling defensive? Is there some truth you would want to know? Is there something you want to acknowledge? Rather than deny, perhaps you want to say, ‘there might be some truth in what you are saying.’ I didn’t realize, or I didn’t mean what it sounded like.
Every new day is a beginning. Some days you may feel that your day, your schedule, your time is all pre-planned with no room for exploring new ideas or places or new friends. That would be a shame. Every new day is filled with opportunity. Read something interesting to think about and then share. Write something that is a result of your experiences or deep thinking and share that. Start asking questions that create a conversation in your head or with others. You don’t have to find world changing solutions to make a difference. You just have to have a open mind to see and hear beyond what you already know, or think you know.
PhD, MA, BA Mathematics
MBA International Marketing & Finance
Taught in MBA Programs for Kellogg Graduate School of Management, DePaul Graduate School of Business, and Cardean
15 years in the Computer Industry: GE, Digital Equipment Corp.
14 years consulting for start-ups through F100 companies, Certified Management Consultant
INTERNATIONAL SPEAKING CREDENTIALS
Sales Meeting kick-offs and keynotes, workshops, seminars for worldwide companies, American Management Association, National Speaker Association, American Marketing Association, Singapore Executive Management Seminar, AMA Tokyo, CMC Canadian Management Centre.
What sites, blogs, or newsletters do you subscribe to now to improve your thinking and decision-making?
Everyone and anyone can improve and it should get better the older you are and the more you have learned and practiced over the years. So what do you do to get better all the time?
Please respond to let me know. Also if you ask your friends and associates the same question, you will start a great conversation.
Recognizing and overcoming mental blind spots.
It may seem strange to say that you see with your brain. Yes, the eyes are the windows. They let in the light waves and movement that get interpreted by the brain. If the ocular nerve (going from the eyes to the brain) or the part of the brain that interprets the signals is damaged, you don’t see. You are blind even though there may be nothing wrong with your eyes.
We can also have a mental blind spot or mental lack of hearing spot because we are not paying attention. Our brain has learned to ‘block out’ sights and sounds that have proven in the past not to be important to you. You may not notice that there is music playing or people having a conversation in the next room until someone brings it to your attention.
Mental blind spots can be there in a person’s brain about any subject and not just about sight or hearing. You may be listening but not paying attention to someone talking to you, maybe even your spouse or parent, until suddenly they say something you really care about. At that point it is as if your brain suddenly wakes up and pays attention.
You can be driving along the streets in your city and not take any notice whether parking is readily available until you get to the street where you will need parking.
There was a story several years ago about a man who had a large family but not much income. During a hot summer spell his children started begging for an above ground pool for the back yard. He told them he couldn’t afford it. Then he left for work driving on the same highway and streets he took five days a week. Suddenly he noticed a sign behind a house he was passing that said, “Above ground 15’ pool, free, to anyone who can pick it up.” He pulled off at the next exit and found the house. When he rang the doorbell he asked,”is the pool still available? How long have you had that sign up?” To his surprise the sign had been up for two months. He had been passing it nearly every day and not taken notice until his children raised his awareness of wanting a pool. His children got the pool they wanted.
We have to turn on our brain to a subject. We have to be paying attention. That is why trying to multitask gets in our way so often. If you are looking at your phone you can’t be paying attention to the meeting you are attending, or the road while you are driving.
Have you ever made a decision and then immediately started to second-guess yourself? You likely kept going back over the problem and how you solved it and then began to have doubts.
Or maybe you developed a great solution to a work problem only to find that your associates and boss don’t see it your way and you can’t figure out how to convince them with your logic that you can see so clearly.
If you have been following my writings and speeches for a while you know that decision-making is one of my main topics. I work with groups to help them sharpen their decision-making thinking and their tools for explaining their results.
I just finished reading “How the Wise Decide” by Zeckhauser and Sandusky. They spent years researching the subject by interviewing great leaders. In a sense they have given me proof to quote for the methods I have been advocating for some time. This should give you extra comfort in applying these techniques.
I definitely recommend the book.
The authors culled the principles into 6 main categories.
Go directly to the source yourself. Even though the leaders they studied ran very large organizations and had tremendous responsibilities, these leaders said that instead of taking all their information filtered through their reports they felt the need to gather some of their intelligence directly from the source, the customers, suppliers, or others.
Seek out people who will not be afraid to tell you that you are wrong. Use advisors with enough diversity of backgrounds and thinking styles to allow you to see your topic from several different viewpoints. These leaders wanted to see and hear opinions challenged (but not personal attacks).
Treat risk as one of the parameters to be compared not something to be avoided. Also very interesting: reward good decisions even when the end result doesn’t work out. We can’t know which is the best decision out of alternatives but we can compare and choose good decisions. Openly discuss failures and missteps to learn from them, not to blame. When I was in direct sales I sat down with my manager and team to go over what I had done to try to win a sale and what had gone wrong. We could all learn from my mistakes instead of descending into denial.
Keep the organization’s vision front-and-center. Make decisions based on whether or not it moves the organization closer to the vision
“Listen with purpose.” My expression is to “listen for meaning.” Both descriptions help you focus on what is being said in a way that allows you to understand and paraphrase back.
Be transparent in leading your organization. Share how and why decisions were made. Challenges, vision, and mission guide the leader as well as everyone else in the organization.
One more point I would add, the best decisions are not one-time unique situations but are made up of a series of smaller decisions that are part of an overall strategy.
My daughter ran an amazing fund raiser on Saturday evening. When I left, the dance floor was filled with happy dancers.
But the purpose was to raise money for the FitMS Neurobalance Center and that was enormously successful. All the services they provide for people with diseases that affect balance and the ability to walk, such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s, will continue for another year.
Investigative skills are absolutely necessary in business but it is not because we must always be suspect of some sort of crime. Making good business decisions requires the same investigative skills as solving crimes, e.g.,powers of observation, listening with full attention, avoiding multitasking so one can focus, deduction and other forms of logical analysis, tapping into that sixth sense, our gut, that alerts us to something that doesn’t feel right.
Sooner or later every business person starts to wonder if they are losing their touch or getting too complacent. People buy based on differences not sameness. You and your company must constantly strive to stand out, to be viewed as a resource, not just a supplier.
A commodity is an item that is undifferentiated in the mind of the potential customer. If it isn’t viewed as any different from any other in its class then the customer will choose the lowest cost, the cheapest. That is the recipe for sliding down the slippery slope of less and less profit.
So instead choose the goal to be viewed as innovative, differentiated, something or someone special.
Innovation is in everyone’s grasp. It is not limited to the birthright of a few ‘creatives.’
Use any of the ideas in Power Brainstorming, the book, or that you will read in this blog to get the creative juices flowing.
Let’s start with diversity, diversity of thinking styles and backgrounds. Us humans tend to filter out so much of our environment that it is easy to miss some good nuggets. Different backgrounds and thinking styles mean observing or noticing different elements. It also means that the same element can elicit a very different response or thought process. I do an exercise in some of my onsite seminars where each person starts with the same word and then lists word connections. Even a common word will elicit very different streams of connected words from participants who may work together every day.
This exercise when applied to your product or customer or event will start you off on the creativity to innovation track.