Monday, July 3, 2017

To Celebrate the 3900th Blog Posting: Practicing Independent Thinking to Celebrate Independence Day

Forward-thinking digital businesses today should encourage independent thinking, appreciate thinkers of consequence, not thinkers of convenience.

A digital ecosystem is a distributed, hyperconnected, complex, adaptive, and interdependent system with properties of self-renewal, scalability, and sustainability inspired by natural ecosystems. To master changes and solve emergent business problems, today’s digital leaders and professionals must cultivate the thinking habit, and develop the high-level thinking ability to gain an in-depth understanding of the business issues, and speak the digital dialect fluently via continuous learning, reflection, and practices. It is the time to celebrate the 3900th blog posting, and it is also time to practice independent thinking to celebrate Independence Day.

Independent thinking as the prerequisite of real critical thinking: Independent Thinking means using your own brain for forming an opinion, not depending on the authority of others. Making up your own mind, in other words. Some other thinkings are not, such as social conformity, approval-seeking, dogmatism, pedanticism, following, mendacity. Independent thinking is extremely important in the digital era in which information only clicks away, but true knowledge and insight are still scarce. Even you are well-educated, but if you uncritically accept whatever values, knowledge, or ideas you've been taught, many of them perhaps are out of date or having a bias, you are not a great thinker. Independent thinking is the prerequisite of real critical thinking which is to make objective reasoning in order to form a judgment. Independent thinking means you do not follow others' opinions blindly, but analyze and synthesize all sources of input and information to form your own opinion. An independent mind is not isolated from the resource, on the opposite, a great independent thinker leverages all sorts of information, be unbiased and objective, be a real critical thinker with the problem-solving mindset to find the best and alternative solutions.

Independent thinking is the key ingredient in nurturing creativity: Creativity is about thinking beyond conventional wisdom. Without independent thinking, the mind, more often than not, still gets stuck inside the box of conventional wisdom. When you allow information into being accepted as absolute "truth" without first applying critical thinking, it inhibits your ability to also think creatively. Being an independent thinker with creativity, perhaps more often than not, involves some level of discomfort and interdisciplinary understanding, to constantly check your own assumptions, and dispassionately analyze and synthesize, to make your own choice. Also, kindly asks questions to draw out other's assumptions as well. Creativity is as much defined by the problem as by the capacity of the individual to connect things to resolve that problem in new and sometimes unexpected ways. A creative person is an independent thinker who can connect the unusual dots to spark creativity. An independent thinking mind is encouraged and appreciated in an open and positive working environment, but be treated as a “misfit” mind in a hierarchical and silo surroundings. Such a modern digital mindset also allows you to appreciate others’ great ideas, but not just follow others blindly.

Independent thinking is a “mindful” ingredient of confidence: Being an independent thinker takes courage to not follow blindly, or only seeking approval from authorities or pursue social conformity. The mental toughness and psychological resilience are important to overcome the challenges. Being an independent thinker means that one has the courage to say “I do not know.” The quickest way to learn something is to admit up front that we don't know when we don't. Independent thinking is a “mindful ingredient” of confidence which is one of the most critical leadership and professional qualities today. Because only confident people with independent thinking can break down silos or conventional wisdom. It is important to practice independent thinking, be objective, and gain a different view in order to develop and have a better understanding of certain topics or problems that may occur.  It is, in fact, imperative to close the cognitive gaps caused by “Group Thinking,” or homogeneous thinking - the thought pattern which is following the crowd, lack of independent thinking to understand things from multiple perspectives, and make sound judgments.

Therefore, the mindful digital leaders and professionals must practice independent thinking for breaking down conventional wisdom, updating the outdated knowledge, and driving collective human progress. From the management perspective, forward-thinking digital businesses today should look for and promote learning agility and encourage independent thinking, appreciate thinkers of consequence, not thinkers of convenience. They should build a creative working environment in which intellectually engaged people are inspired to thinking independently, motivated by tough problems and common mankind challenges, and the organization as a whole is like the innovation hub to keep ideas flow, mind flow, and therefore, digital flow.



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