“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”―Jim Rohn
I often have the opportunity to think together with colleagues and clients.
You do too, I am sure. Sometimes it is to plan or solve an issue or even just to chat over a friendly coffee comparing notes on our profession.
The power of the “mind meld”
However, really thinking together, which my friend Bill Braun describes as “moving along together in thought”, is rare.
This is the kind of creative dialogue that produces breakthroughs – that generates a quantum leap in understanding, alignment, planning, ideation and commitment. Bill introduced me to a book a while ago, which I read cover to cover, and I am thinking it is time to revisit: “More Time to Think: A Way of Being in the World”. (And more from Bill on thinking together on his own blog here.)
Star Trek fans might think of the Vulcan “mind meld”: “A “mind-meld” is a technique for sharing thoughts, experiences, memories, and knowledge with another individual, essentially a limited form of telepathy.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcan_(Star_Trek))
Qualitatively different thinking→co-creating
Those of you who know me, know that I am an avid networker―probably in part because thinking together lights up my brain. Last week I had several such vibrant and fascinating meetings. One in particular got me thinking about the power of “thought partners”, how rare the “mind meld” experience is and how to create more of these.
Something qualitatively different happens with thought partners. It can be spontaneous or it can be planned but the experience changes us. We leap and jump together through information, through ideas. We become, even if just for moments, one mind. We have memorable and shared epiphanies. At its best we co-create a shared future.
Supercharging your strategy
This is the work of leading change and engaging others around us. What if we could construct and repeat such experiences? What if we could engage our whole organizations in seeing a new shared future and begin to move towards that with confidence and hopeful anticipation (a process that requires nurturing along the journey). This is much more than an intellectual understanding driven through a generic PowerPoint, webcast or town hall meeting. This is about two-way co-creation.
What is different when the conversation speeds up, all parties lean in, exchange information, build on ideas, when a “whiteboard” becomes essential to illustrate connections, relate and question new shared insights?
This is actually a rare experience. It’s about enough shared language, frames of reference and trust. Trust to be vulnerable – to share more information about risk, to be confident in ambiguity and to lean in to experimenting and learning.
Creating a new future, the kind that corporate strategies need today, depends on this level of employee engagement. While a few organizations have a better foundation of trust and engagement than others, I can think of only a handful that are ready (and still readying themselves) to traverse the kinds of transformational change that face them.
Think of the agility demonstrated by Netflix and required of GM. In between these two examples there are thousands of others who are still trying to “manage” change through their organization in sequential, chronological, top-down, project managed, 1-year business plans – like the march of penguins.
What we really need is the migration of swarms.
Learning to “think together” is a step towards getting us there.
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If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” -African proverb
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Change Whisperer by www.gailseverini.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.