Sunday, August 26, 2018

Climbing the Pyramid of Cognitive Maturity

The digital fit starts with the mind fit. 

Cognition is a perception, sensation, and insight. The most important capability of the cognitive mind is the willingness and ability to seek out knowledge, address ignorances and the assumptions we make to minimize it. When we explore the mental process of acquiring new knowledge through thoughts, experiences, and senses, the cognition involves exploring varieties of meanings, absorbing and digesting information from varying sources, and improving the cognitive maturity step by step. To survive and thrive in today’s “VUCA” digital new normal, it’s imperative for digital leaders and professionals to climb the pyramid of cognitive maturity in order to make sound judgments and effective decisions.

The level of perception: Perception is the way that your eyes see the world and your mind interpret it. Your perception is an interpretation based on your own conditioning, insight, surroundings, experiences, leading you to make the judgment. No two person’s realities will be totally identical at the giving time. One’s perception matters because it affects how you are going to respond to “what happened,” and which influence you would make to the surroundings. You can only know what you know, but there are more dimensions which you don’t know. Outdated perception is like time glue that keeps you still. People’s perceptions reflect their thinking capacity (the breadth and depth of the cognitive mind) and mentality traits (positive vs. negative; egoless vs. egotism, etc). Thus, it’s important to understand people deep in the mindset level in order to get truly understand “who they are,” as well as the level of perception they can reach. When the collective perception is closer to the perception of the mastermind with the high level of cognitive maturity, human society can accelerate the collective progress.

The level of perspective: Perspective is looking at either heads or tails. A coin is an interesting metaphor as your focus is on heads you cannot see tails and while looking at tails you cannot see heads. Just like the perception, perspective is a personal “truth.” The secret lies in "imagining" a perspective of the whole coin as you aspire towards truth. To spark creativity and encourage critical thinking, it’s important to embrace different perspectives. For example, an architect must consider the whole, and their purpose is to achieve the goals for the thing being architected. An engineer, on the other hand, should also think about the goals, but their first concern should be meeting the narrower requirements that their aspect of the overall design must meet. You don’t need to agree completely with the other side of viewpoint, but you can always gain empathy, insight, and new perspective to see things from the other angle and be creative to figure out alternative solutions. An argument opens new perspective; changing perspective will change your mind. The long-term perspective, creative perspective or multidimensional perspectives often come from the mind with the high level of cognitive maturity.


The level of understanding: Understanding requires a person's ability to grasp or comprehend information. How deep your understanding is based on the mindset, logic, knowledge, lenses, and the methodology you leverage to interpret things. Often people follow conventional wisdom or others' opinion and get stuck only at the level of content understanding, explain things based on the linguistic meaning or make an observation on the surface level. They are constrained by the little box with which they are familiar with or just follow other people’s explanation without thinking further or digging deeper. In this regard, they lack true understanding. Thus, too often, assumptions and prejudices get in the way of in-depth understanding. To deepen the level of understanding, it’s important to analyze and synthesize information, dig deeper to gain contextual understanding by sensing the tones and embracing the holism. It’s important to practice independent thinking to form your own opinion, examine your thought processes and make sure they are open to true understanding and reach the high level of cognitive maturity.

The digital fit starts with the mind fit. The most important capability of the cognitive mind is the willingness and ability to seek out knowledge, practice independent thinking, gain in-depth understanding, and fill out cognitive blindspots. There is no magic “thinking sauce” to make one’s mind profound, individuals simply have to cultivate a healthy thinking habit, keep practicing and climbing the pyramid of cognitive maturity at their own pace, learning, relearning, thinking, practicing, and exploring all the time.

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