Ever find yourself quoting the immortal philosopher Curly Howard, “I’m Tryin’ to Think, But Nothin’ Happens”?
You might be thinking the wrong way.
Let’s say you’re a growing midmarket firm and you think that to deal with all of the growth, it’s best to just hire more people. Is that really the right approach? It’s certainly the first thing that comes to mind, but is that right for you?
There’s an interesting article on the National Center for the Middle Market site titled “Six Magical Thinking Errors” that talks about how new levels of business growth bring with them a commensurate requirement for new ways of thinking that are easier said than done.
What makes it easier to think of new ways of thinking rather than actually incorporate those new ways of thinking? Well, you can’t approach new problems with old ways of thinking. But what keeps us from sitting in an empty conference room brainstorming new approaches?
The author cites a few behavior patterns that inhibit our ability to break out of our conventions and think up new ways of solving new problems:
1. Most leaders choose not to take an objective look at why things work (or why they don’t work). Instead, they see what they want to see…or perhaps rely on their own intuition. Clearly, there’s bias at work here.
2. Speaking of bias, there’s also the problem of overconfidence. Just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work in the future, yet most of us base future predictions on past performance.
3. We see things the wrong way. In other words, when things go well, we credit our strategy and our talent. When they don’t, we put it on outside factors that we can’t control. Is that bias or something else, perhaps ignorance?
4. Choosing to ignore information we can’t otherwise explain is a common behavior pattern. It keeps us from seeing changes that need to be made…often keeping us from even failing to acknowledge them.
So now that we’ve figured out the behavioral patterns that keep us from coming up with new ways of solving these new problems, let’s look at some bad ideas that people often come up with for tackling problems:
1. If I work harder, I’ll get better results. Of course, the solution here is to work smarter, not harder.
2. I need to solve the problem in front of me. The idea is that you tackle the problems you’re facing today and worry about the rest tomorrow. Unfortunately, you may be ignoring larger issues by not tackling them now.
3. I know that my approach works. Perhaps it did work, but that doesn’t mean it will solve every problem. Knowing that your solutions won’t work for all problems is a good start.
There’s a lot more in the article, but if you find yourself like Curly Howard, take a step back and think again!
How are you handling the new problems that come from new growth? Please let me know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.