26 Feb Think Again by Adam Grant
I recently read Adam Grants new book called “Think Again”. Adam Grant is a Wharton professor, and he’s written a number of books e.g. “Give and Take” and has a great podcast with TED that I would really recommend called “Work-life“.
The key concept that I really liked in this particular book is about thinking like a scientist or like an Explorer.
Grant explains that when we are trying to persuade, convince or compel somebody around to our point of view we have the tendency to take on a mindset that may not be useful. Specifically, we take on the role of preacher, prosecutor or politician. Preachers proselytize from the pulpit wordsmithing to convince people to their point of view. Prosecutors are so convinced that they’re right and others are wrong that there is no room for conversation or listening. Politicians seek to curry favour and manipulate. None of these mindsets serve us when we’re trying to bring people with us. They fail to involve others in the process to create meaningful dialogue and optimum outcomes.
The alternative view from Adam Grant is that we should adopt the mindset of scientists. I like this thinking because it is by bringing a scientific methodology to how we approach conversation that we create breakthrough discoveries. So how do we do that? What do scientists do? Scientists look at the evidence, they create a hypothesis, then they ask questions, they run experiments to prove or disprove that theory. If the hypothesis is proven great but if it has been disproven, great because either way we learn. We are further along on the learning curve. This really fits with the growth mindset piece from Carol Dwecks work. Much better as a leader to be a learn-it-all than a know-it-all.
The other piece I really liked from this book is that we work in organizations that value knowledge and expertise and very often we are rewarded for our specialism or having all the answers. Grant asserts that if knowledge is power then wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.
So very often we think that’s where our value is, in our knowledge and understanding of a particular subject. We think our knowledge is what differentiates us from everybody else, the value we add. It’s a powerful concept that knowing what you don’t know- having the ability to ask insightful questions and digging below the information to surface underlying issues is really what wisdom is. Google and the internet has commodified information and there’s not much information that isn’t freely available. So what we’re really looking for now, what we really value from others is insight, is wisdom and that’s all about asking great questions as opposed to having all the answers.