Tag Archives: cognitive biases

The Downside of Likemindedness

The Downside of Likemindedness

GUEST POST from Rachel Audige

You know that extra buzz of care you feel for people like you? That might be you caught up in like-mindedness bias. We have a tendency to seek out people like us and ideas like our own. That may be just fine but let’s not kid ourselves that it fosters new thinking!

It’s hard not to enjoy kindred spirits. There is something very comforting about spending time with people who share similar values and desires, but I tire of meetings and work situations where people speak of the pleasure of being with folk like them:

“It is so good to be amongst like-minded people,” I heard in a local business meeting that I attend to be challenged.

“An event for the like-minded,” is supposed to attract us to an innovation event.

“Feeling like meeting like-minded women over lunch?” says an invitation I receive in my inbox.

We welcome people, but the sub-text is that they need to ‘be like us’. “There is nothing wrong with you as long as you look like, think like, act like, lead like, advance like, decide like, keep time like, create like, socialize like and consume like us,” writes Nancy Kline in More Time To Think.

It is a bias at large in the workplace and, indeed, in most other places. We just seem to want to self-replicate.

More pervasively, even social media algorithms nourish this thinking and feedback to us only the ideas and world views that we have ‘liked’. The result is that our own narrow views are played back to us in a mind-narrowing echo chamber. This is not an innovative ecosystem, it’s more like an echo- system where our own thoughts and ideas are reflected back at us.

This is not an innovative ecosystem, it’s more like an echo- system where our own thoughts and ideas are reflected back at us.

I believe this obsession with like-mindedness stems from a range of factors including:

▶ A fear of being different. Our desire to fit in and belong is usually greater than our willingness to stand out.

▶ A false idea of mateship that tells us we can only be ‘mates’ if we get on. We see this a lot in countries like Australia and New Zealand.

▶ Avoidance of conflict. In organizations where we are not encouraged to challenge the leadership or each other, some will choose to behave as though they agree to avoid any negative consequences.

▶ Fear of rejection. This is the people-pleasing side where people show agreement whether they agree or not.

▶ Need for Approval. This is very apparent in many large corporations and can lead to a passive/defensive culture in an organization. It may be amplified by the fact that for many the HiPPO (the bias where we defer to the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) is offshore and there is a sense that we need to walk the corporate line.

▶ And lastly, what Nancy Kline would see as an untrue limiting assumption, that someone else’s divergent thinking ‘does not count’; a sense that we are—or our thinking is—superior.

“When we all think alike, there is little danger of innovation” — Edward Abbey

I don’t believe that like-mindedness is conducive to innovative thinking or the best decision making. I have sat on a board where the CEO and Chair were so close they did not call each other out on important matters. I have also been in a team where the Head of Sales and Head of Marketing were being told they should agree of things when I was convinced that each of them was likely to be more effective if they represented their divergent take on the customer, strategy and long-term versus short-term priorities.

A CREATIVE CULL

The like-mindedness bias not only impoverishes thinking but excludes those who are ‘un-like’ us in a variety of ways. Some expressions of this like-mindedness bias and its consequences that I have witnessed with regards to creative thinking are:

▶ Groups that place too much value on similarity and getting on. As a result, they are less likely to bring divergent thinking into the room. They may then consciously — or unthinkingly — not invite those who we believe are not ‘like them’. I have seen this lead to ideas that are less rich and less inclusive of a diverse range of views where I had to speak up for the absent (needless to say, I also had blinkers and would have left people out).

▶ Countless idea generation sessions where we have not consciously asked the question: who does this idea exclude? We tend to be very good at looking for benefits and challenges but many workshops have fallen into the trap of the mythical notion of ‘one size fits all’. This could exclude any number of people.

▶ I recall a meeting where a panel was seeking creative ideas around addressing the disproportionately low number of women positions of power in Australian businesses. Incredibly, only two men were in a room of over 100 women. This was unlikely to bring the most creative ideas or engage those that needed to be part of the conversation.

▶ Conversely, I have run a roundtable explicitly for people living with disability and upset a person who was hard of hearing and was seated at the back of the room, unable to lipread. Albeit unintentional, we need to watch out for ‘micro-aggressors’; those (seemingly) little things that remind people that the world wasn’t built for them. We talk a lot about ‘scalability’ in innovation. But how can we see something as truly scalable if we are leaving out about 15% of the population?

Most of us have been in a meeting — creative or otherwise — where the unwritten rule involves sacrificing more challenging, disruptive ideas for consensus and groupthink. In a creative session, if my goal is to get on with another person, I am unlikely to improve on their ideas. I am also unlikely to contradict them. This leads to a lowest common denominator effect whereby we settle on what is agreeable to all.

If we are not pushing each other for better, we are likely to stop at safe, possibly ‘vanilla’ concepts. This erodes our creative edge and our point of difference. Nancy Kline clearly sees the danger: “We worship at the altar of homogeneity. Actually, we sacrifice there… Homogeneity sounds so nice. Same, comfortable, familiar, predictable. But it is ruthless. And it infects even our conception of how to slay it.”

The most helpful way of exploring the many negatives of the like-mindedness bias and its impact on innovation is to highlight the value of its opposite…

DIVERSITY | DIVERGENT THINKING | INCLUSION and UNIVERSAL DESIGN

One of the most powerful measures to keep most biases in check is to invite diversity, divergent thinking and actively foster inclusion.

Mid-Covid-19 discussions in Australia, I was delighted to hear Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy’s response to a question about whether he agreed with the different stakeholders involved in making wellbeing decisions. He replied that it was preferable for them not to agree and that their decisions would be better for it.

Diversity is manifesting an understanding that each individual is unique and recognising individual differences. These differences may be in ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies. As Kline states: “The mind works best in the presence of reality. Reality is Diverse.”

‘Diversity’ has been part of the business vernacular for years now. Diversity is the mix. What matters is how we make this mix work once we combine different backgrounds, vocabularies, paradigms and processes. That’s inclusion. Not getting this right can whitewash creativity and, potentially, undermine the inclusiveness of any creative output.

Dr Jennifer Whelan, founder of Psynapse, offers a simple illustration of why diversity is preferable. Whelan describes two rooms. In the first room, you see people just like you; people who share the same language, skin colour, gender and even background. You can relax, these are ‘your kind of people’. You can build rapport, make assumptions, enjoy high levels of certainty. It feels efficient.

But there are risks to this, warns Whelan: “Too much agreement means we don’t consider alternative solutions, or discuss a broader range of ideas. We are at risk of groupthink and biases because we don’t have a fresh set of eyes on how we’re thinking. We don’t feel challenged so we go with the easier option and stick with tried and tested solutions. While some of the routine things we do at work might not suffer, when it comes to some of the more challenging things, this room acts as an echo chamber.”

In the second, you open the door to a room full of people who are both different to you and to each other. In this room, you’ll have to bring your A-game. You’ll need to listen more attentively and be better prepared.

“This second room doesn’t feel as comfortable as the first room. You have to work a lot harder and the outcome might not be as predictable,” says Whelan. However, this room has many potential upsides. This is likely to be a space which is more conducive to creativity. A place where more varied ideas are aired, less shortcuts are made and people are more likely to notice what might otherwise be overlooked.

Room one is more comfortable but it is less well equipped for creative thinking and is more prone to biases, errors and assumptions.

“Getting more comfortable in room two, the diverse room, is the goal of inclusion and, without inclusion, room two can risk higher levels of conflict. Different perspectives and ideas aren’t explored without an open, curious mind, so the team’s diversity can go to waste,” says Whelan.

So, what can we do to counter the like-mindedness bias to disinvest in sameness and think more inclusively and creatively and ‘make the mix work’ in our innovation?

My experience of corporate innovation workshops and idea generation sessions is that we focus on desirability, feasibility and viability but forget to ask the question: Who am I excluding?

It strikes me that we need to overlay—or better, underpin— all our creative thinking and work on new product and service design, process enhancement by this consideration and constantly strive to iron out the kinks to make whatever we are creating as inclusive as possible.

We also need to include universal design principles in our idea generation criteria: is it equitable? Flexible? Simple and intuitive? Is information perceptible? Is there a tolerance for error? Does it require low physical effort? Is the size and space adequate for approach and use? Who might this idea exclude? If we want to dial up our creative outputs, we need more divergent inputs. We need to actively seek out or create places where we will encounter different-minded people; divergent thinking and diverse group identities.

As Brené Brown says: “Daring leaders fight for the inclusion of all people, opinions and perspectives because that makes us all better and stronger.

“That means having the courage to acknowledge our own privilege and staying open to learning about our biases and blind spots.”

NOTHING KEEPS BIAS IN CHECK LIKE INCLUSIVE DIVERSITY

Whatever we are creating, we shouldn’t be considering difference after the fact. Literally — and metaphorically — we need to come up with ideas, systems, processes, designs, websites, buildings…where each and every person can enter through the front door.

I work on a simple premise that innovation should be geared towards making our lives better. When this view is shared, diversity really needs to be front and centre of any initiative. Online and off, we need to follow the thinking of the likes of Todd Rose, co- founder and president of non-profit Project Variability, who challenges the ‘myth of the average’ and recommends that we ‘design to the edges’ and optimise our processes, structures, systems, products and communication for the full range of human characteristics, traits, abilities and interests.

I have always found that my ideas can be improved and sharpened by people who think differently. As long as I listen to those voices with respect and interest — and genuinely contemplate the ideas of others.

I am convinced that we think better and are more likely to look at things from more angles with different perspectives in the room. This is why the best idea generation happens with multidisciplinary, cross-functional, cross-ability groups.

I’m not scared of a ‘clashing’ of ideas and debate. It keeps me sharp and it keeps me grounded. It keeps complacency at bay. It leads to more meaningful outcomes. I am conscious that my comfort with conflict may be another person’s discomfort.

Even when I’m overly partial to an idea, I try to think inclusively and not defensively, I try to make a point of inviting diverse voices to pipe up. Being challenged is a necessary part of the creative process. We need to embrace the discomfort.

Whatever we are creating, we shouldn’t be considering difference after the fact. Literally — and metaphorically — we need to come up with ideas, systems, processes, designs, websites, buildings… where each and every person can enter through the front door.

If you are interested in overcoming biases to enhance your innovation effectiveness, check out: “UNBLINKERED: The quirky biases that get in the way of creative thinking…and how to bust them” at www.rachelaudige.com

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Top 100 Innovation and Transformation Articles of 2022

Top 100 Innovation and Transformation Articles of 2022

2021 marked the re-birth of my original Blogging Innovation blog as a new blog called Human-Centered Change and Innovation.

Many of you may know that Blogging Innovation grew into the world’s most popular global innovation community before being re-branded as InnovationExcellence.com and being ultimately sold to DisruptorLeague.com.

Thanks to an outpouring of support I’ve ignited the fuse of this new multiple author blog around the topics of human-centered change, innovation, transformation and design.

I feel blessed that the global innovation and change professional communities have responded with a growing roster of contributing authors and more than 17,000 newsletter subscribers.

To celebrate we’ve pulled together the Top 100 Innovation and Transformation Articles of 2022 from our archive of over 1,000 articles on these topics.

We do some other rankings too.

We just published the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2022 and as the volume of this blog has grown we have brought back our monthly article ranking to complement this annual one.

But enough delay, here are the 100 most popular innovation and transformation posts of 2022.

Did your favorite make the cut?

1. A Guide to Organizing Innovation – by Jesse Nieminen

2. The Education Business Model Canvas – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

3. 50 Cognitive Biases Reference – Free Download – by Braden Kelley

4. Why Innovation Heroes Indicate a Dysfunctional Organization – by Steve Blank

5. The One Movie All Electric Car Designers Should Watch – by Braden Kelley

6. Don’t Forget to Innovate the Customer Experience – by Braden Kelley

7. What Latest Research Reveals About Innovation Management Software – by Jesse Nieminen

8. Is Now the Time to Finally End Our Culture of Disposability? – by Braden Kelley

9. Free Innovation Maturity Assessment – by Braden Kelley

10. Cognitive Bandwidth – Staying Innovative in ‘Interesting’ Times – by Pete Foley

11. Is Digital Different? – by John Bessant

12. Top 40 Innovation Bloggers of 2021 – Curated by Braden Kelley

13. Can We Innovate Like Elon Musk? – by Pete Foley

14. Why Amazon Wants to Sell You Robots – by Shep Hyken

15. Free Human-Centered Change Tools – by Braden Kelley

16. What is Human-Centered Change? – by Braden Kelley

17. Not Invented Here – by John Bessant

18. Top Five Reasons Customers Don’t Return – by Shep Hyken

19. Visual Project Charter™ – 35″ x 56″ (Poster Size) and JPG for Online Whiteboarding – by Braden Kelley

20. Nine Innovation Roles – by Braden Kelley

21. How Consensus Kills Innovation – by Greg Satell

22. Why So Much Innoflation? – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

23. ACMP Standard for Change Management® Visualization – 35″ x 56″ (Poster Size) – Association of Change Management Professionals – by Braden Kelley

24. 12 Reasons to Write Your Own Letter of Recommendation – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

25. The Five Keys to Successful Change – by Braden Kelley

26. Innovation Theater – How to Fake It ‘Till You Make It – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

27. Five Immutable Laws of Change – by Greg Satell

28. How to Free Ourselves of Conspiracy Theories – by Greg Satell

29. An Innovation Action Plan for the New CTO – by Steve Blank

30. How to Write a Failure Resume – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.


Build a common language of innovation on your team


31. Entrepreneurs Must Think Like a Change Leader – by Braden Kelley

32. No Regret Decisions: The First Steps of Leading through Hyper-Change – by Phil Buckley

33. Parallels Between the 1920’s and Today Are Frightening – by Greg Satell

34. Technology Not Always the Key to Innovation – by Braden Kelley

35. The Era of Moving Fast and Breaking Things is Over – by Greg Satell

36. A Startup’s Guide to Marketing Communications – by Steve Blank

37. You Must Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable – by Janet Sernack

38. Four Key Attributes of Transformational Leaders – by Greg Satell

39. We Were Wrong About What Drove the 21st Century – by Greg Satell

40. Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire – by Braden Kelley

41. Now is the Time to Design Cost Out of Our Products – by Mike Shipulski

42. Why Good Ideas Fail – by Greg Satell

43. Five Myths That Kill Change and Transformation – by Greg Satell

44. 600 Free Innovation, Transformation and Design Quote Slides – Curated by Braden Kelley

45. FutureHacking – by Braden Kelley

46. Innovation Requires Constraints – by Greg Satell

47. The Experiment Canvas™ – 35″ x 56″ (Poster Size) – by Braden Kelley

48. The Pyramid of Results, Motivation and Ability – by Braden Kelley

49. Four Paradigm Shifts Defining Our Next Decade – by Greg Satell

50. Why Most Corporate Mindset Programs Are a Waste of Time – by Alain Thys


Accelerate your change and transformation success


51. Impact of Cultural Differences on Innovation – by Jesse Nieminen

52. 600+ Downloadable Quote Posters – Curated by Braden Kelley

53. The Four Secrets of Innovation Implementation – by Shilpi Kumar

54. What Entrepreneurship Education Really Teaches Us – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

55. Reset and Reconnect in a Chaotic World – by Janet Sernack

56. You Can’t Innovate Without This One Thing – by Robyn Bolton

57. Why Change Must Be Built on Common Ground – by Greg Satell

58. Four Innovation Ecosystem Building Blocks – by Greg Satell

59. Problem Seeking 101 – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

60. Taking Personal Responsibility – Back to Leadership Basics – by Janet Sernack

61. The Lost Tribe of Medicine – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

62. Invest Yourself in All That You Do – by Douglas Ferguson

63. Bureaucracy and Politics versus Innovation – by Braden Kelley

64. Dare to Think Differently – by Janet Sernack

65. Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Reality – by Braden Kelley

66. Innovation vs. Invention vs. Creativity – by Braden Kelley

67. Building a Learn It All Culture – by Braden Kelley

68. Real Change Requires a Majority – by Greg Satell

69. Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit – by Braden Kelley

70. Silicon Valley Has Become a Doomsday Machine – by Greg Satell

71. Three Steps to Digital and AI Transformation – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

72. We need MD/MBEs not MD/MBAs – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

73. What You Must Know Before Leading a Design Thinking Workshop – by Douglas Ferguson

74. New Skills Needed for a New Era of Innovation – by Greg Satell

75. The Leader’s Guide to Making Innovation Happen – by Jesse Nieminen

76. Marriott’s Approach to Customer Service – by Shep Hyken

77. Flaws in the Crawl Walk Run Methodology – by Braden Kelley

78. Disrupt Yourself, Your Team and Your Organization – by Janet Sernack

79. Why Stupid Questions Are Important to Innovation – by Greg Satell

80. Breaking the Iceberg of Company Culture – by Douglas Ferguson


Get the Change Planning Toolkit


81. A Brave Post-Coronavirus New World – by Greg Satell

82. What Can Leaders Do to Have More Innovative Teams? – by Diana Porumboiu

83. Mentors Advise and Sponsors Invest – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

84. Increasing Organizational Agility – by Braden Kelley

85. Should You Have a Department of Artificial Intelligence? – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

86. This 9-Box Grid Can Help Grow Your Best Future Talent – by Soren Kaplan

87. Creating Employee Connection Innovations in the HR, People & Culture Space – by Chris Rollins

88. Developing 21st-Century Leader and Team Superpowers – by Janet Sernack

89. Accelerate Your Mission – by Brian Miller

90. How the Customer in 9C Saved Continental Airlines from Bankruptcy – by Howard Tiersky

91. How to Effectively Manage Remotely – by Douglas Ferguson

92. Leading a Culture of Innovation from Any Seat – by Patricia Salamone

93. Bring Newness to Corporate Learning with Gamification – by Janet Sernack

94. Selling to Generation Z – by Shep Hyken

95. Importance of Measuring Your Organization’s Innovation Maturity – by Braden Kelley

96. Innovation Champions and Pilot Partners from Outside In – by Arlen Meyers, M.D.

97. Transformation Insights – by Bruce Fairley

98. Teaching Old Fish New Tricks – by Braden Kelley

99. Innovating Through Adversity and Constraints – by Janet Sernack

100. It is Easier to Change People than to Change People – by Annette Franz

Curious which article just missed the cut? Well, here it is just for fun:

101. Chance to Help Make Futurism and Foresight Accessible – by Braden Kelley

These are the Top 100 innovation and transformation articles of 2022 based on the number of page views. If your favorite Human-Centered Change & Innovation article didn’t make the cut, then send a tweet to @innovate and maybe we’ll consider doing a People’s Choice List for 2022.

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 1-6 new articles every week focused on human-centered change, innovation, transformation and design insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook feed or on Twitter or LinkedIn too!

Editor’s Note: Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all the innovation & transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have a valuable insight to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, contact us.

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50 Cognitive Biases Reference – Free Download

I came across this cognitive biases infographic from TitleMax and it has a lot of great information in it, but…

The problem with long, information-rich infographics like this is that they’re hard to consume on the screen in their entirety, you can’t print them in a legible way, and they’re hard to leverage in your work. The creators of this infographic did a nice job of capturing a wide range of cognitive biases, which makes this a quite useful tool for design thinking, but not in this format.

To help everyone out, I’ve taken the original infographic and reformatted it into a five page PDF for easy reading and printing on 8.5″ x 11″ letter size paper.

Click here to download the 50 Cognitive Biases PDF (8.5″x11″)

See the original infographic below (click to access the source image):

Cognitive Biases Infographic

Click here to download the 50 Cognitive Biases PDF (8.5″x11″)

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