Monday, September 5, 2016

The Danger of 'I Get It' Thinking

Let's perhaps start by defining terms. 'I Get It' thinking, often synonymous with 'I Know It', occurs
when we immediately decide that we already know about or understand a concept or situation that someone is describing. I'm sure there is no one reading this that has not experienced this thinking at some point. The danger in doing so is proportional to both the frequency with which we employ this thought and also the importance of the situation in which we apply it.

Each time we believe we already 'get' a particular concept or situation, we are telling ourselves we already know what there is to know. We shut ourselves off from listening to or picking up any new information on the subject.  We therefore end up ignoring or overlooking deeper insights or even new opportunities or perspectives. As soon as we believe that we 'get it', we don't explore the subject any further, which may seriously restrict the quality of the decisions that we make.

I see this often in training sessions, where participants have pre-determined that they already 'get' the subject we're discussing, that they know all that they need. They have closed off their minds before entering the room and therefore leave the session with no further insights or advancement in their thoughts on the subject. Their parting comment that the past hours were a waste of their time is accurate.  Indeed, they learned nothing, but not because there was nothing for them to learn. Had they not believed they already 'got it', they would have been able to pick up a few more insights, gained a little more depth to their current understanding, or even come to understand where they might support other team members with their advanced understanding.

The 'I Get It' syndrome is insidious and can creep in at any level.  Corporations that believe they 'get' the market, future trends, the continual demand for their products or services will make decisions based on those thoughts but may fail to continue to check their understanding and miss shifts and nuances that cost them opportunities.  Companies that get locked into the belief that they 'get' their business either come to learn that it is a constantly evolving understanding or they become defunct.

Individuals aren't any different. When we believe that we 'Get It' we close ourselves off from learning more or from being open to accepting alternative views. We then make decisions based on inaccurate or limited data which clearly will have an impact on the quality of the decisions we make, whether personally or professionally. For unimportant issues this is likely fine. It's the important decisions that will suffer and that will cost us.

The easiest way to combat the 'I Get It' Syndrome is to question everything. Question your preconceived notions about how things work and about why they work. Question what you know about your business, about the market, customers needs, about what's not working and why. Some of the most successful business leaders of all time used this technique to great advantage. Challenging assumptions and beliefs opened them to exploring 'new' possibilities.

Ask... 'If this weren't true, then what?

The more important your decision, the more important the need to suspend your 'I get it' thinking. Listen, Question, Learn. The more open you can remain, the broader your insights and the better the decision. Better quality decisions lead to greater success and opportunities. A nice price to pay for not 'getting it' quite as often.

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