Get Out of Your Cognitive Box to Innovate

Get Out of Your Cognitive Box to InnovateWe all need  to get out of our cognitive box to understand the contents of the other’s boxes.

Assessment the potential of a person should not be done without defining in what context his potential will be put to the test. I can be introverted or extroverted, I can be an expert or a leader, but of course, in a society more open and culturally diverse, potential can be called into question at any time.

I have always believed that a good team overcomes “almost always” in effectiveness the ability of a very good individual isolated. Probably an individual alone, even being very talented is capable of making more and bigger faults that a good team, because alone their critical capacity is less.

The teams are fundamental in an organization but only work well if there is a good leadership and if its constitution is suitable for projects that they engage. A leadership, that we should not forget, is almost always replaced in organizations with regularity.

Even when a team or teams are composed of great figures, including some scientists, is always a good thing that the diversity and interdisciplinarity contaminate these teams.

When Kevin Dunbar reviewed the transcripts of the meeting, he found that the intellectual mix generated a distinct type of interaction in which the scientists were forced to rely on metaphors and analogies to express themselves. (That’s because, unlike the E. coli group, the second lab lacked a specialized language that everyone could understand.) These abstractions proved essential for problem-solving, as they encouraged the scientists to reconsider their assumptions. Having to explain the problem to someone else forced them to think, if only for a moment, like an intellectual on the margins, filled with self-skepticism.

This is why other people are so helpful: They shock us out of our cognitive box.“

We as individuals are more or less intelligent. The intelligence defines our ability to abstract thinking, reasoning, learning, planning and decision making or problem solving or our ability to deal with diversity.

-And as a team?

It is well known that for teams to function and perform to the best of their ability, they must focus on structure, processes, leadership and the right organizational support and context. What research now indicates, however, is that collective intelligence in teams, can lead to higher performance. We have evidence that speaking in turns by group members, the proportion of females on a team and especially social sensitivity are all elements that lead to higher team intelligence.

Research shows that people in power, especially men, speak more and interrupt more…

Women use, at least to some degree, different working and communication styles, which are often more social and communal…

Social sensitivity is the ability to decode nonverbal cues and read the emotions of others – something that people who are empathetic typically do well…

Although they may arise some problems of communication and understanding in groups where there is great diversity, be it gender, racial, ethnic, or cultural, the teams end up becoming “more social”, because they bring a great variety of perspective, experiences and attitudes to the set.

Work teams composed of competent members with diverse origin work more effectively than the workgroups that are homogeneous, or composed primarily by members with similar backgrounds. Hardly in homogeneous groups, has one of its elements outside his cognitive box.

When combined, the different members of the teams generate a unique dynamic team that is more comprehensive in various directions and thus better equipped to deal with complex problems and challenges.

At Microsoft we recognize that the U.S. and global diverse markets represent tremendous sources of value in the workplace and marketplace.  The growth of diverse populations worldwide and the potential of these segments make them important targets as prospective employees.  By the year 2050, 85% of the entrants into the U.S. workforce will be people of color and women.  Moreover, developing regions, such as China, Brazil, India, and Africa, make up an increasing share of the world population…

By increasing the diversity of our workforce we will create a team that effortlessly designs products with the needs of these growing customers in mind.”

The vast majority of organizations is passing or will pass soon by this confrontation with diversity and the best way to deal with it is learning and integrating the knowledge that the new values and environments transport.

We all need  to get out of our cognitive box to understand the contents of the other’s boxes.

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Don’t miss an article (4,000+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Antonio Baldaia is an Organizational Development and Innovation Consultant located in Portugal. He has a dual language blog Intuinovare and can be followed on Twitter @Jabaldaia

Jose Antonio Baldaia




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