Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How to Spot “Outliers”

Spot outliers to inspire creativity and accelerate changes to advance and lead forward. 

Facing “VUCA” digital new normal, organizations need to spot the new breed of talent or innovators who can think differently, see things from the different angle; read between the lines, figure out alternative ways to do things. But more specifically, how can you spot the outliers and rejuvenate the culture of creativity?

Outlier practices “out of the box” thinking all the time: Just like the best photo of the earth has been taken from space, the best angle to understand a problem holistically is from outside-in. An outlier’s view is upon how to see through things from the different angles, keep a certain distance from the environment you observe or experience. Sometimes organizations go stale, from the boardroom to front line, they need the fresh blood the so-called "shot in the arm" of someone who thinks different – take customer’s view or connect dots of innovation. Visionary is often an outlier - the one who steps out of a conventional thinking box, or linear patterns. Therefore, they can see things further or deeper. Outliers practice out-of-the-box thinking all the time, they absorb new knowledge and expand their thinking box. Outliers have an open mind that holds onto its beliefs while being prepared to consider other perspectives should they make sense. In fact, many things outside of box yesterday has become the new normal today, to make the progressive movement, as the human did, moving from an agriculture society to an industrial society, and now to a digital and knowledge society, our thinking has to continuously evolve, adapt, and prepare for changes with speed.

An outlier’s mind is magnetic to attract even “polar opposite” viewpoint: As the saying goes, every wise thought always has opposite thoughts not less wise. In today's hyperconnected global economy, we can learn a lot from different mindsets (thought processes), cultures and positions. When people leave the inside box thoughts and standards to seek additional knowledge and experience, they are stepping outside that box into unfamiliar territory, get to know the complementary ideas, listen to the other side of stories, and attract even the opposite viewpoints. Many individuals live in a traditional organizational or societal culture in which perhaps they still get stuck in the “comfort zone,” only get along with the people similar to themselves, cause blind spot when making judgments or mislabeling based on superficial criteria. We all have our own bias, some have more, some have less. Thus, we all should desire to become the “outlier” in a certain area, broaden our points of interest and try new things to extend our thinking box.

An outlier’s mind is skeptical with good reasons: A skeptical mind dares to ask tough questions, able to assess the value of new evidence and act accordingly. Framing the right question more often needs to step back or get out of the box, in order to look at the problem from the different angle or understand the issues holistically. Outliners do not follow rules blindly, they are confident to keep asking, "why? why? why?" Outliers have the interdisciplinary knowledge, and their imagination is not constrained by the knowledge, they have growth mind, leverage critical thinking, and creativity. An outlier is creatively disruptive, break down silos, update digital rules, and create new knowledge. They refuse to be bound by constraints and limitations, or conventional wisdom and a pursuit of possibilities rather than impossibilities.

Spot outliers to inspire creativity and accelerate changes to advance and lead forward. When the organization only rewards the rule followers, not innovators - the old rule breakers, more often, they are stagnated and stifle innovation. The real inclusiveness needs to focus on cognitive differences, skills, abilities and the wealth of ideas since the value lies in the contributions of the individual to the organization. Therefore, outliers are the new digital fit.


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