By Brenda Do
As business leaders, we’re solving problems all day – including problems that haven’t happened yet. Add to that the extra pressure of time constraints, so when a problem comes up, it’s easy to quickly go into fix-it mode. That’s when we often become biased by our own expertise. Being biased isn’t the same as falling in love with our own ideas, but it can be just as damaging.
Here’s how to avoid it and come up with more effective solutions that stick. These tips are from corporate leaders and change specialists when they spoke at the Work Without Limits Summit.
Like attracts like
Making decisions that are biased by our expertise has an upside. When you’re faced with a problem, you may think, “This is like the other one from___. We successfully solved it using ___, so that should work in this situation.” That makes sense, right? Two problems seem similar, so apply the same solution. That’s what cognitive psychologists call analogical reasoning.
The upside of analogical reasoning is it helps shield us from being overwhelmed by the variety of decisions we make all day. But the downside is in our desire to move efficiently, we can miss the deeper differences between problems, or close our minds to new ideas and possibilities. Both of which can lead to the wrong or less effective solutions.
Be OK with not having the answers
How can we remain open to all possibilities and not fall into our own expertise trap? Approach problems with a beginner’s mindset. In that, you approach a subject with eager curiosity and a lack of preconceptions—even if you have advanced knowledge of a topic.
Leading teams from this mindset encourage employees to feel safe seeking new solutions. They start liberating themselves from doing things the way it’s always been done, which enables them to be more creative and adapt faster to shifting markets. Instead of resisting change, they begin to leverage it.
Dyan Finkhousen, Founder and CEO of Shoshin Works, spent years optimizing how enterprise organizations and their clients work with flexible talent. She says, “We’ve seen that teams that adopt a beginner’s mind and balance it with their expertise were the most successful.”
I see solutions
Let’s see the beginner’s mindset applied to a current business challenge. According to an Upwork Future Workforce report, the top hiring challenge for companies is access to skills. That’s a huge problem because as a business, you are who you hire. So what can you do?
Jeff Fenigstein, VP of Marketing & Sales Operations at Woodruff Sawyer, changed how he defined hiring. Instead of seeing work as a job, he sees it as a framework of tasks. When he hires, he doesn’t just think in terms of full-time employees. He hires for skills and by the project. Then he considers what expert—whether internal or external—could most effectively deliver those tasks.
The perspective shift opened him to flexible talent. “If you think through your wish list of what expertise you’d like at your fingertips, you don’t have to wait until …read more
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