Tag Archive: Tim Hurson


Beyond Groupthink

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The pursuit of innovation and deeper answers requires a mix of approaches that allows groups to access new ways of thinking. I’ve shared information in the past from Tim Hurson about brainstorming in groups, a process he says is usually “brain drizzle.” His approach to deeper thinking was shared in a previous blog entitled, A Penny for Your Thoughts. I encourage you to read that blog again or for the first time if you are new to our community within the past two years.

Our most creative and transformative answers in groups, from Tim Hurson’s perspective, come when we exhaust initial ideas and are encouraged to go deeper in our thinking. This avoids acceptance of an early idea that groupthink may be quick to accept; the innovative answer is deeper and takes more effort, especially when there may be a few people in the room who are not comfortable speaking.

Susan Cain addressed getting to new ways of thinking in her book, Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. She said, “introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation.” She shared examples where group process was undeniably powerful in the creative process, but there was emphasis on individual process too. One example she gave was how the computer operating system Linux was developed. This was an open-source process where many individuals contributed to its development from the quiet of their homes. She hypothesized that the operating system would not be as complex and innovative had all of the individuals been brought together in one place with a goal of developing the system. I suspect Tim Hurson’s approach to thinking deeper within groups gets to some of the individual, more solitary process because it moves beyond the typical cognitive gyrations of groupthink and into the deeper recesses of individuals’ minds. How can we best honor group and individual processes to discover innovative approaches and answers? There is a flexibility of patience that is needed to allow this to happen.

Discovering innovative answers happens best when there is trust and a willingness to be vulnerable in a group.  What can each of us do to deepen trust?   This necessary ingredient to healthy growth provides a basis to maneuver various levels of conflict.  Patrick Lencioni’s addressed this in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In a speech about this book, he emphasized the importance of vulnerability-based trust within groups. He said, “Without vulnerability-based trust, conflict becomes politics. With [vulnerability-based] trust, conflict is nothing but the pursuit of truth or the best possible answer.” A trusting environment that allows for healthy conflict around issues is essential for doing the work that leads to finding better answers.

I am excited about the evolution of our collective efforts and our ability to come together in trusting environments, where all voices are valued, to find the best possible way to serve our students, our EHHS community, and the college.

Bonus: “The hard truth is, bad meetings almost always lead to bad decisions, which is the best recipe for mediocrity.” Patrick Lencioni

References
Cain, S. (2012). Quiet: The power of introverts in a would that can’t stop talking. New York: Crown Publishers.

Hurson, T. (2007). Think Better: An innovator’s guide to productive thinking. New York: McGraw Hill.

Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Image (February 2, 2015). Retrieved January 26, 2017 from: http://www.corpgov.net/2015/02/groupthink-boardroom-context/

creative thinking (1)

 

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’
‘I dare say you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  Lewis Carroll

What improvements need to occur to strengthen current programs and attract students to our college?  What new programs do we need to create, especially given that many of the programs in our division are at or above maximum capacity?  What is the best way to do the thinking that will answer these questions?  Do you have some ideas that seem impossible?

There were several interesting articles in the media recently.  One was entitled, “McDonald’s new menu item hints at new strategy” by Dan Moskowitz.  He said, “McDonald’s is slowly moving toward becoming a coffee shop. This might sound ludicrous to those who grew up while eating burgers and fries at McDonald’s, but any company that wants to succeed will implement initiatives that match industry trends or find itself dying a slow and painful death.” This almost seems like an impossible thought, but with current health trends, the author said the future is not in burgers and fries; of course, McDonalds will always sell hamburgers and fries.  There also are many conversations across the county about the future of colleges/universities.  What changes will we need to make to our curriculum (our menu) and what programs do we need to develop to meet the needs of our future students and the needs of society?

I used the Lewis Carroll quote and the McDonald’s article to make the point about the importance of having a creative vision to ensure a strong future.  I have discussed the type of thinking in previous blogs that will help provide answers.   I remind you of Tim Hurson’s (2007) concept of “reproductive thinking” and “productive thinking” from my 2011 blog entitled, “A Penny for Your Thoughts”:

Reproductive thinking is seen when a question is asked and the conditioned response answers are given.  These are answers that may have been used in the past, ones that people grab onto quickly because they are comfortable or familiar (they worked in the past).  Unfortunately, while the problem may seemingly be “solved,” the familiar solution leads to the end of thinking and better approaches are never discovered.

Productive thinking comes after all of the conditioned response answers are given.  Tim writes about breaking deep-thinking sessions into thirds when seeking solutions to problems.  The first third usually contains reproductive thinking, the second third might have some good ideas in it, but the final third is where you find the gold.  Creative, out-of-the-box thinking only comes after reproductive thinking is out of the way.  Tim once said, “The questions from which you learn the most are the ones you don’t know the answers to.”

Tim Hurson also advocates using a process for proposing ideas, even if they seem impossible, without making any positive or negative judgments about them as they are being proposed; judgments shut down creative thinking.  Critical thinking about what gets proposed comes later.  Tim sent me his newest book last week that will be published this July.  He and his co-author, Tim Dunne, addressed the process of developing ideas by saying, “…don’t take the first right answer.  Wait until you’ve been able to generate lots of answers and then decide which one[s] might be the most useful” (p. 13).  I think it would be fascinating for everyone in various programs in our Division and for groups in the college to go through this process.

The answers to our future around program improvement and around the development of new programs and services are within everyone who works at and attends our college.  Margaret Wheatley said, “We need each other’s best thinking and most courageous experiments if we are to create a future worth wanting” (p. 99).  She also said, “…we can’t design anything that works without the involvement of all those it affects” (p. 110).   Some of our best thinking and answers have already been revealed in action plans that accompany the new Campus Plan, but there is more gold to be mined.  What questions did we not ask in when developing the Campus Plan and action plans that need answers?

Be assured, some things will not change drastically in the future.  Another interesting article I read recently was entitled, “Future economy: Many will lose jobs to computers” by John Shinal.  He said:

The jobs that will persist in the future include those that either take advantage of uniquely-human traits – such as manual dexterity, creativity and emotional intelligence – or that improve the lives of other humans directly in a face-to-face setting.

For example, dentists, nutritionists, athletic trainers, podiatrists, elementary school teachers and occupational, recreational and mental health therapists all have a less than 1 percent chance of being replaced by computer software, say Frey and Osborne (2013; click here for the paper; see the appendix).

We clearly have many professions within our Division that capitalize on improving people’s lives in face-to-face settings.  It seems imperative that we be the best at what we do in preparing students for helping professions; thus, there is always room for improvement.  The better we do our jobs, the better our graduates will be at providing service to others; our mission of preparing students for academic, professional and personal success will be achieved.

It is important to think creatively and to understand the most productive process for getting results from creative thinking.  It also is important to understand those things that will not change due to the necessity of face-to-face interactions, but can still be improved.  As we do this work together, the power of positive relationships cannot be underestimated in the overall context of creating a powerful, positive future.  In the spirit of Margaret Wheatley, as we look to the future, I know it is the strength of our relationships and the number, variety, and strength of our connections that will create a motivating and meaningful present.

Bonus: Click here to watch Tim Hurson’s Ted Talk entitled, “The shock of the possible

Shared Values Highlighted in this blog: Broad-mindedness and Creativity

Carroll, L. (1865). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. London: MacMillan Publishing Co.

Frey, C.B. & Osborne, M. (2013). The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerization?  Oxford, UK: Academic Publication.

Hurson, T. (2007). Think Better: An innovator’s guide to productive thinking. New York: McGraw Hill.

Hurson, T., & Donne, T. (July 2014). Never be closing: How to sell better without screwing your clients, your colleagues, or yourself. Taylor Fleming Portfolio/Penguin Group USA.

Image (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2014 from:  http://smart-decisions.net/articles/things-you-didnt-know-about-yourself-12-facts-about-your-creativity

Moskowitz, D. (2014, March 21). McDonald’s new menu item hints at new strategy. USA Today. Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/03/21/mcdonalds-new-menu-item/6705499/

Shinal, J. (2014, March 21). Future economy: Many will lose jobs to computers. USA Today. Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/2014/03/21/software-tech-economy-work/6707457/

Wheatley, M.J. (2005). Finding our way: Leadership for and uncertain time. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

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