Thinking as a competitive advantage

Are you a better thinking than your competition?

No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking. - Voltaire

There are many different styles of thinking; analytical thinking, critical thinking, linear thinking, systems thinking, creative thinking, design thinking, abstract thinking etc etc.

Each type of thinking is useful under the right conditions.

Just like a jumble of tools in a toolbox - the right thinking tool is useful when paired with a situation for which it is a match, but ineffective (possibly even destructive) if mismatched.

If you're trying to work out why your car won't start in the morning - abstract thinking is perhaps not the best use of your mind in that moment; whereas it is perfectly suited to understanding how a pending interest rate rise might affect your ability to afford to keep driving the same car in the future, that right now won't bloody well start.

This example should shed some light on how thinking needs to be 'a good fit' for the confronted issue, however some methods have become and remained universally more popular and overused than others for a number of reasons.

Having found popularity during the industrial age, analytical and linear modes of thinking have produced some of society's greatest inventions and human accomplishments.

Modern science, engineering and management are all the products of sequential, logical, methodical types of thinking that work very well under conditions of stability and order, but are dismally ineffective when the levels of complexity and chaos of the system under investigation are ramped up.

The issue is that there is cultural perception, throughout the world, that 'left brain cognition' is of a higher value than right brain thinking. This has meant that society has developed a historically unchallenged bias towards these kinds of thinking methods - entrenching them as the default approach to just about every problem.  

You really don't need to look far to find real evidence of problems in our world actually getting worse because the wrong type of thinking was used in an attempt to fix them.

Try to solve a complex or abstract problem with linear thinking is like attempting to use a spade to fix a problem in a marriage.

Few people are aware that their are different types of thinking available, even fewer are confident, or capable enough, to be able to actively switch out one thinking approach for another after a critical assessment of what kind of problem they are trying to solve.

How many meetings have you been in where somebody actually said; "The style of thinking we are currently using is not appropriate for this situation, can we switch to another and see what kind of solution we come up with then?"

All problem solving is as a result of some kind of metacognition activity.

The appropriateness and quality of that thinking determines whether a problem is successfully and efficiently dealt with, or whether it grows into an even more severe issue later on.

Thinking - and perhaps more importantly - an appropriate thinking approach for the task at hand, is what sets great teams of people apart from mediocre ones.  

Investing in developing competency in all types of thinking - especially ones that are more suited to better decision-making within complex social systems during eras of disruption and uncertainty like systems thinking and creative thinking - is a wise investment for any organisation looking to gain a competitive advantage.