Help seems to come from new quarters – unlocking our minds and breaking free from our cognitive biases.
Part two of the Cognitive Traps we find ourselves in. Part one is here
So how can we break free from what holds us back? As we have these cognitive biases then we have to consciously work on reducing their effect in our judgements, decisions and actions. We need to break out of those cognitive chains that can hold us back and limit our innovation thinking
I think there is so much help at hand
If I take www.innovationgames.com, as one example, of where Luke Hohmann and his team are taking us. I think there is this important emerging ‘rush’ into games-based tools partly because they can significantly help offset cognitive bias. They allow us to become more engaged in collaborative thinking.
On http://www.innovationgames.com site they offer this as their value statement: “our on-line and in-person games help organizations solve problems across the enterprise by using collaborative play to tap into true innovation”. “Games bring your ideas into Action” in our ability to come together and then actively collaborate, helps you discover market opportunities and uncover customer needs and challenge your thinking in new and stimulating ways. Engagement in imaginative ways allows you to break free of some of your cognitive traps.
Have you explored the different books around games, for example Gamestorming: a playbook for innovators, rule breakers and change makers. They state “we’re hardwired to play games. We play them for fun. We play them in our social interactions. We play them at work. That last one is tricky. “Games” and “work” don’t seem like a natural pairing. Their coupling in the workplace either implies goofing off (the fun variant) or office politics (the not-so-fun type)”.
The authors of Gamestorming, have a different perspective. “They contend that an embrace and understanding of game mechanics can yield benefits in many work environments, particularly those where old hierarchical models are no longer applicable, like the creatively driven knowledge work of today’s cutting edge industries”
I’d suggest that in any industry there is this pressing need to open up the thinking to see ‘things’ in new ways. The challenges are becoming more complex, faster paced and needing far more agile minds. These game storming approach are allowing us to alters our cognitive biases in new ways.
Have you read the article by Jordan Shapiro on “How gamed-based learning can save the humanities” where he discusses example of game-based learning platforms that uses the magic of interactive storytelling–video game design–to bridge the catastrophic gap that undervalues the humanities in education. He goes on to suggest “Metaphors, signs, and symbols are useful. As the building blocks of language, they let us articulate our experiences through a shared system of meaning-making”. Any shared language reduces personal bias.
Take a look at this slideshare “Building a sustainable innovation ecosystem” for exploring translation pathways to new ways of learning in the 21st century. Game-based learning is significant to alter our perceptions and challenge our thinking.
The Blank BM Canvas
Following the success of Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas we are all getting more comfortable in building off a ‘blank’ canvas our new business models. Since this canvas there are countless other alternatives that can help us to overcome bias and prompt different thinking around most of the aspects of business design.
Collaborative and visualization tools are equally making a difference
We are seeing the art of storytelling, of taking part in simulation work, making better use of the different visualization techniques and we are opening up in allowing ourselves more time for strategic and concept conversations.
If we take the Heath brothers suggest in their book “Made to Stick” I certainly believe this can help in ‘chipping away’ at cognitive bias. It reduces bias though drawing out, more often than not collectively and giving time to debate. This shifts our personal perspectives and allows us to see things differently as ‘I’ moves to ‘we’ in association and assembled knowledge of the broader community engaged in the conversations and exploring.
Can we use the tool from “Make It Stick” for reducing cognitive traps?
For example in their book “Made to Stick” they (Heath brothers) lay out the critical elements of a sticky idea of Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, Stories. This encouragement makes for more conversations, both within our own minds and in greater participation with others. This idea for structuring conversations will be great offsets to our cognitive bias in my view. It certainly can become a great starting point.
So taking the Heath Brothers suggested acronym of ‘SUCCES to reduce Cognitive Bias
- Simple — find the core of any nascent concept and allow it to permeate.
- Look for the Unexpected —let it surprise us so we can see its possibilities
- Concrete —Grasp it and its potential effects to share this new insight with others
- Credible — work on the association to give it ‘growing’ believability
- Emotional — help people see the importance of this to achieving innovation that transforms.
- Stories and Narratives — for crafting a compelling narrative to change our cognitive biases into new logic and value propositions.
Knowledge diffusion I believe can reduce cognitive bias also
For me the more we can diffuse knowledge, the better, for recognizing its potential new value in enabling innovation to be translated into “exploitive learning”. I’ve previously suggested absorptive capacity as a help in knowledge adapting. I wrote a piece called “Moving towards a more distributed innovation model” can allow your thinking to absorb and have a greater flow.
Envisaging different states for innovation needs clear application.
Scenario thinking is a more than helpful place to go for changing our perspectives. What we have to guard against is that these do not become another cognitive trap where we want scenario thinking as long as it is on ‘our terms’.
I believe if we only ever construct scenarios in one ‘mindset’ we miss so much. As many who have been reading my posts I strongly prescribe the three horizon methodology for approaching innovation. Take a look at mapping innovation across the three horizons to see where this can ‘shift’ our thinking beyond accepted present day thinking norms for innovation to be advanced more effectively.
Langdon Morris wrote in a book called “The Innovation Master Plan” there are four devious mindset traps of 1) fixation on the status quo , 2) short-term thinking dominates at the expense of longer term, 3) too much incremental innovation and 4) ignorance of the real meaning of change, its rate and impact. We need to radically alter these traps. Fixation, biases simply do have innovation consequences.
Seeing across multiple horizons ‘frees’ us from many cognitive traps
I believe we can go well beyond the present value of ‘just’ fitting your existing innovation portfolio and directional management into a one-dimensional framework, viewed in our present ‘here and now’ mindset. You can see opportunities completely differently beyond the existing mindset and activities, if you think in different time horizons. These different thinking positions take innovation from tactical to strategic, then into foresight in your three different mindset evaluations. This three horizon approach challenges your cognitive biases as you really do just have to let go and open your mind right up, to see and that is in different thinking frames.
Perhaps I can go one step further, a final step, by reflecting back.
So in my final post coming up (part three) on the Innovation Bunker – Cognitive Traps I offer a simple framing technique that I think has value. One that we all can relate to it, not so much to each others cognitive biases but on how we can manage innovation and its progress in a ‘common’ approach- It can reduce differences and allow for better results.
We certainly do need to encourage adoption and decrease the rejections in innovation.