The Seven Fa­tal Flaws of Think­ing

Rotman Management Magazine - - FROM THE EDITOR -

Leap­ing to so­lu­tions, jump­ing to con­clu­sions or brain­storm­ing in an in­stinc­tive or re­flex­ive way al­most never leads to an el­e­gant so­lu­tion to a com­plex prob­lem. Fix­a­tion is the um­brella term for our deeply-grooved think­ing pat­terns—men­tal mod­els, mind­sets, bi­ases, as­sump­tions—that can make it hard for us to ‘think dif­fer­ent’. Over-think­ing is the art of com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters, and caus­ing prob­lems that weren’t even there to be­gin with, which we tend to do be­cause our brains ab­hor un­cer­tainty. Sat­is­fic­ing is No­bel Lau­re­ate Her­bert Si­mon’s term for our ten­dency to glom onto so­lu­tions that are easy and ob­vi­ous, but medi­ocre, thus fail­ing to solve our prob­lem in a cre­ative way. Down­grad­ing is a close cousin of sat­is­fic­ing and is a for­mal re­vi­sion of a goal in what amounts to pre­emp­tive sur­ren­der, sim­ply so that we can de­clare vic­tory. No one likes to fail. NIH means ‘if we didn’t come up with the idea, it won’t work’. We nat­u­rally re­ject, sti­fle and dis­miss ideas sim­ply be­cause we didn’t think of them our­selves. Self-cen­sor­ing is the mind­less act of re­ject­ing our own ideas, usu­ally out of fear, be­fore they ever see the light of day. It is the dead­li­est of the fa­tal think­ing flaws, be­cause it sti­fles cre­ativ­ity.

—From Win­ning the Brain Game: Fix­ing the 7 Fa­tal Flaws of Think­ing

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