Boosting your mental agility and critical thinking

Large amounts of data and rapid change increase the need to think critically and adjust to new realities.

Will Rogers reminds us that “even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” While stagnation is dangerous, finding the path forward can be challenging. Mental agility, situational awareness and sound judgment are essential to addressing probable, pervasive and problematic change.

The rapid rate of change has led CEOs to identify critical thinking, judgment and innovation as essential to their future success. In today’s complex world, no individual has all the answers, but a person can ask the right questions and evaluate responses.

Mental agility — the ability to recognize what has happened, what is currently happening and what could happen in the future — requires an open, inquisitive mind. And that openness must be combined with a critical analysis of all relevant information to discern how to leverage opportunities in the short and long term. Mental agility and critical thinking close the ubiquitous gap between what we think we know and what we need to know. They prevent missteps and blunders.

Mental agility and critical thinking do not require an elevated IQ, advanced degree, lofty position or specific personal style. They do require a dedicated willingness to:

  • Test existing assumptions that may have changed based on dynamic environments
  • Check for potential distortions or bias, including level of effort and confirmation bias
  • Solicit and respect multiple points of view

Adopting an open mind means actively seeking information, considering alternatives, and selecting a viable and valuable goal. With multiple variables affecting any decision, a comprehensive framework is indispensable in collecting pertinent information. Knowing it all prevents risking it all.

Consider the purchase of a car. Decision factors include price, warranty, miles per gallon, cost of insurance, features, size, lease or purchase, color, style, type of gas required, cost of maintenance, towing capacity and dealer location. This list may appear lengthy, but compared with the factors involved in organizational success, it is quite small.

Organizations confront greater complexity and interdependencies than purchasing a car. One individual’s ability cannot juggle every aspect. Leaders need a system to gather timely, relevant information from multiple sources. Considering six situational mindsets ensures an effective grasp of reality. The following definitions and questions serve as a guide and can be tailored into a checklist for your organization:

  1. Inventing Situational Mindset questions concern innovative products, designs and services: What new features or services can we offer? How can we apply technology in a new way?
  2. Catalyzing Situational Mindset questions assess the level of customer service, market position and competition: What new markets can we explore? What will grow sales? How can we improve customer service?
  3. Developing Situational Mindset questions evaluate system effectiveness, information flow and seamless execution: What will improve cross-functional collaboration? Are our systems effective? What policy alterations will support our goals?
  4. Performing Situational Mindset questions examine quality, cycle time, workflow and return on investment: What deviations should we address? What can we improve? What limits our productivity?
  5. Protecting Situational Mindset questions address staffing levels, retention of key talent, succession planning and engagement: What will improve collaboration? How can we retain key talent? How can our culture become more agile?
  6. Challenging Situational Mindset questions probe trends, assumptions, strategies and opportunities: What new alliances are possible? What new niches should we pursue? What will position us for the future?

These situational mindsets surface what is present, what is within reach and what is around the corner. Their use builds the mental agility and critical thinking essential for organizations to achieve their goals in the midst of change.

Published with permission from SmartBrief.com

About Author:

Mary Lippitt, an award-winning author and speaker, founded Enterprise Management Ltd., an international firm helping leaders deliver results. A leader in the field of organizational effectiveness, she has assisted corporate and government clients in the US and abroad, including Lockheed Martin, Marriott, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Situational Mindsets: Targeting What Matters When It Matters

Situational Mindsets expands leadership beyond mastering personal style, skill set, and positive characteristics.  It adds the ability to adjust to dynamic conditions and deliver results.  The importance of situational awareness was cited as early as the 5th century BC in The Art of War by Sun Tze.  Sun Tze described how the terrain, weather, population, sources for food and water, and vegetation were important factors in military strategy.

While the challenges facing our leaders today differ, knowing what has been what is and what is changing enables leaders to accurately assess their current environment to make a smart decision.

Situational Mindsets offer a framework to effectively scan an organization’s environment, weigh alternatives, decipher complexity, and address changing realities. Leaders cannot do everything that they want to do, but they must target what is vital at this moment in time. Using situational mindsets, leaders grasp present realities, foster engagement, circumvent risk and leverage opportunities. Situational mastery flows from asking questions. It does not depend on IQ, advanced degrees or extensive training.  Also, when we exchange information, we promote understanding and alignment.  Leaders do not need to have all the right answers, but they must ask all of the right questions.  No one person can handle the pace of change, the growing complexity and amount of data.  But the task is not overwhelming.  It merely requires a situational mindset checklist to guide data collection and prevent potential blind spots.

Six situational mindsets cover key organizational factors: new products and services, customer focus and competitive position, organizational excellence, productivity and profitability, people and culture, and preparing for the future.  Insights from situational mindsets prioritize actions and prevent blunders.

Another benefit is that mindsets enhance respect for different points of view.  Valuing diverse perspectives builds collaboration and initiative. It also reduces interpersonal conflict. It provides the clues to walk in another’s shoes translates.  It spotlights how to influence their thinking and actions. It is also the greatest honor you can give to another person—to listen to them and help them achieve their goals.  After we understand all perspectives and realities, we can discover common ground.

In the dynamic 21st century the scope of leadership must expand.  Situational mastery, critical thinking, priority setting, and sustainable results play a critical role in a person’s and an organization’s success. Click to order your copy ☛ Situational Mindsets

Join me on October 29th at 1 pm Eastern for a FREE webinar on Situational Mindsets:  How to Boost Critical thinking and Deliver Results ⤵︎  click link below

Situational Mindsets: How to Boost Critical Thinking and Deliver Results – with Mary Lippitt

Published with permission from Bizcatalyst360.

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“Reading this brilliant book was both a pleasure and a gift. Situational Mindsets has not only helped me to analyze my own leadership tendencies and skills, but it caused me to take notice of the changes I need to make within my own organization to gain a competitive advantage in today’s world.”

David M.R. Covey, CEO of SMCOV, Coauthor of Trap Tales

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