Monday, March 27, 2006

Is Using Half One's Brain Enough?

Continuing from the last post, how can you increase your business IQ by getting to the heart of daily financial matters?

Emotional Reactions and Business Decisions

Business etiquette does not favor evidence of feeling. It's as though emotional reactions signify a lack of control -- and therefore cloud our ability to identify, consider, or present the truth. Those who seem inflamed with even a small amount of emotional energy become suspect, and their ideas are considered unreliable and biased.

What This Means for Innovation

The assumption here, of course, is that truth is singular and objectivity not only exists but can be demonstrated as such. If there happens to be more than one answer, each must have the capability to be quantified in very specific ways. Measurement is established in numerical terms, and these numbers can be translated directly into financial currency.

This way of thinking, considered THE bottom line and unquestionably objective. Sticking to one way of thinking reduces variables, and although it might offer more control over results, it also consequently reduces the possibility of new ideas.

What would happen if we remembered to be curious?

Auditing the Results of Emotional Intelligence

The insistence on disconnecting feeling from thought ultimately will not serve innovation. In fact, it's not even possible. After all, what is inspiration but the meeting point of emotional and intellectual insight?

An Example

Remember David Firth's technologists who felt that narrowing their focus would be good for innovation? The ones who circled the wagons to keep out those with problem-solving strategies different from theirs?

Clearly, this is not a decision based on clear thinking about developing new ideas. Instead, it's an emotional reaction dressed as a rational decision. The real issue here is not generating new ideas but preserving a comfort level at work.

In this case, recognizing the relationship between ideas and feelings would have benefited the project. It takes courage to broaden one's focus to answers never before considered, but it's the only way something new will happen.

It certainly won't if you don't.

Back to Basics: Learning Can Be Scary (Especially for Grown-Ups)

Integrating anything new -- creating connections between the unfamiliar and what we already know -- can be scary. With the unknown, we have no control over what we understand, any idea about how we feel, or any knowledge about what can do about it or our position in its presence.

As we've been discussing, learning is disorganizing. We have to give up tight control on the universe with which we are comfortably familiar -- and our feelings about the world and items within it -- in order to acknowledge the value of something outside it.

The next post gets to the core of how this connects to business decisions, so stay tuned.

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