Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Digital Evolution at the Mindset Level

The human species is at a turning point that requires a significant adjustment in our evolutionary path rooted at the mindset level.

What is truly making a human as an intelligent being is our thinking capability. Our mind is a complex system of complex systems and many of them are very difficult to understand and grasp. They shape our thinking, communicating, and the way we perceive and understand things. Human has sophisticated language skills. Is it because our brain is bigger and more complex than animals? Is human cognition converged with machine intelligence? The thoughts piled with the thoughts build into a cognitive mind. The most important capability of the cognitive mind is the willingness and ability to seek out knowledge, address our ignorance and the assumptions we make to minimize it, make a discernment based on such an understanding. Nowadays digital makes an impact on almost every aspect of our life and human society. So, what’s the digital evolution at the mindset level? And how to change the game via changing the mindset?

Shaping the bigger, much bigger box of thinking is evolutionary at the cognitive level: The individual’s “thinking box" is a mental construct made up of personal and environmental components that one operates within. Due to the scarcity of information and static setting in the industrial age, many people are used to living in the familiar territory and apply conventional wisdom based on a very limited thinking box they shape quite a long time ago. If we all stayed in a box and didn't believe things exist outside of our box, there's no room to broaden our thoughts and no progress can be made. Digital is all about hyperconnectivity and innovation. Nowadays, with the increasing speed of changes and abundance of knowledge, the content in that little thinking box can easily get stale and out of touch. In fact, great things and advancement don't happen inside your comfort zone or in a box which is associated with convention within context. When one leaves those outdated thoughts and standards to seek additional knowledge and experience, they are stepping outside that box to unfamiliar territory, they are expanded into a much bigger box, and let the creative mind run free, they are able to think with a new perspective, unconventionally, or simply different. That could be a formidable mind power to accelerate digital transformation.

From applying linear logical thinking to practicing Systems Thinking is evolutionary at the cognitive level: We are moving from a static and linear business world to a dynamic and hyper-connected digital era, it directly impacts on how we think and do things more effectively. Systems Thinking is to understand the interrelationship between parts and the whole. At a high level, System Thinking is an awareness of an entire system, and how changes to any part of that system impact the other parts of the system and the whole. The shift from linear logical or analytical thinking to systems thinking is evolution at the mind level because Systems Thinking is integral thinking of analytics and synthesis. It encourages looking at the wider aspects around any problem space and then understanding the effect of imposing boundaries within that space, in order to frame the right problem and solve it in a systematic way.

From silo thinking to holistic thinking is evolutionary at the mindset level: Silo thinking often means to only pay more attention to the part, but ignore the whole. Silo-based traditional management practices achieve a certain level of business efficiency, but also cause the side effect and drag down the overall business maturity. The word "holistic" itself refers to something that transcends an adding or combination of thinking ways. Holistic thinking is more than a combination of these three ways of thinking: analytical, systems, and critical thinking. It requires a very open mind and ability to transcend conventional wisdom. Holistic thinking is the type of thinking practice that appreciates how underlying complexity generates the features and phenomena of interest. It is critical to apply holistic thinking for understanding the holistic digital business ecosystem with “VUCA” characteristics and deal with emergent issues wisely to improve decision maturity.

Thinking in different ways often has to do with how one is willing to perceive, through what lens and knowing that each offers new and varied information that can be thought of. The deep problem that reveals is to understand what are the evolutionary pathways implied by these mind switches and how we can leverage different thought processes to solve complex problems facing us today effectively. In the meantime, our species is at a turning point that requires a significant adjustment in our evolutionary path rooted at the mindset level.


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