Tuesday, June 29, 2021


Sophisticated leaders and professionals are both intelligent and innovative; informative and intuitive; intrapreneural and insightful...

We live in a complex world full of order and chaos, truth and myth. Sophistication seems to have appeared rather suddenly within the history of human evolution. In fact, it’s part of our journey to climb the intellectual hierarchy. Being sophisticated is not exactly the same as being intelligent; it perhaps implies being natural, authentic, original, articulate, decent, or paradoxical. 

In fact, all artistic, sophisticated things of mankind are inspired by nature. nature is dynamic, balanced, and harmonized, with a full spectrum of colors, gradients...all sorts of shapes & sizes; they are not fixed, but keep evolving. A sophisticated leader or professional has a unique set of complex mindsets and recombined capabilities and skills to understand multifaceted situations and solve problems thoroughly.

See around the corner: People are complex, businesses are complex. To untangle unprecedented complexity, we need to reach a stage to assess the logic of everything, see things from different angles, see beyond and see underneath, and transcend the interdisciplinary knowledge to get to the heart of the matter. The more complex the situation is, the more important to leverage critical thinking and wear multidimensional thinking hats as effective tools, the more different approaches and role gaming is needed to reach for in-depth understanding. Since fostering change and solving complex problems is always a collaborative endeavor, this dimension of cognitive diversity is indeed needed to provide more teeth and speed to the problem-solving initiative in the rapidly changing times.

Individually, do you always listen to what is being told or taught without a second thought? To break through your thinking ceilings, you need to build solid thinking blocks, have sufficient knowledge and unique insight to observe deeper, see things underneath and see around the corner. So sophisticated professionals can read hyperconnected digital sentiment, dig beneath the superficial layer, transcend the interdisciplinary knowledge, to understand others deeply or get to the heart of the matter. They are, first of all, independent thinkers, making up their own mind, being open to fresh thoughts or knowledge, not following others’ opinions blindly, but shaping their own thoughts and minds in order to deal with complex issues more thoughtfully.

Read between the lines:
We live in the hyperconnected and informative world, the functional, geographical, and even industrial boundaries are blurred. Today’s business problems become over-complex and interdependent, the assumption that there is a single cause to a “problem” in a complex adaptive system is limited. If you continue to fix symptoms, the existing problems perhaps keep coming back. Thus, it’s crucial to “read between the lines,” to gain the contextual understanding of a specific cause and effect in a specific context or the core issues of a situation based on the identification of relationships and behaviors within a model, context, or scenario. Otherwise, cognitive gaps, knowledge gaps, innovation gaps, and many hidden pitfalls become insurmountable problems for us to reach the high ground of collective progress.

Behind every problem is a relationship dynamic out of alignment, to diagnose the real problem, content, context, and insight, follow this order to deepen your understanding of where all the functional boundaries are, the scope and context of the problem, dig into the root causes, see a larger system with interactive pieces and “conflict” goals, and create the relevant context to make an everlasting solution. Otherwise, you perhaps only fix the symptom or cause more side effects later on.

Question unquestionable: Abundant information and shortened knowledge cycle is part of digital reality. If you do not continue to learn, you are lagging behind. However, many people are used to living in familiar territory with a silo mentality and apply conventional wisdom based on a very limited thinking box they shaped quite a long time ago. It stifles changes and causes culture inertia. To build a conducive environment with renewable energy, people down the organization need to have appreciative eyes for the diverse viewpoint and be encouraged to speak up, “question unquestionable,” and make inquiries of conventional wisdom, belief, or common sense - are they our personal truth or universal truth? Can we still use them as quick logic to solve problems effectively, or do they actually become the part of the cause to get us stagnated?

With the rapid growth of information and fast-paced changes, 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. It's important to challenge conventional wisdom and eliminate pre-conceptual assumptions or unconscious bias which is often caused by misperception or mislabeling. Practicing “out-of-box” thinking takes a certain mental, psychological and conditional chemistry/ Sophisticated leaders should recognize and reward their outliers and unconventional thinker who have always been intrigued and they have always asked questions - to themselves, to circumstances, to books, to experiences, and to other fellow people, to challenge assumptions and bring up fresh point of views and spur creativity.

Hold opposite truths: The world is neither black nor white; there are many shades and colors in between. We have seen people debate what is right and what is wrong. Right and wrong also come in shades of gray; they are subject to change and to attitude. It depends mostly on your perspective, experiences and situation. Emotionally, the people who can think simultaneously at the opposite poles of thought process, can be angry and calm at the same time. So sophisticated people demonstrate paradoxical intelligence who can see the two sides of the coin, and hold the opposite of truth, grasp the quintessential, and develop the new concept.

Forethoughtful leaders and professionals with paradoxical intelligence can proactively provoke changes, have the courage to leave the nostalgic past and take a leap of faith into the future by balancing agility and stability, creativity and standard; diversity and unification, performance and compliance, management and governance. No silo thinking, no binary or extreme thinking. Manage emotions and drive digital continuum in an elegant and innovative way.

Plan unplannable: There are both known unknown and unknown unknown. While there is always some remaining uncertainty and emerging properties. That means we need to be humble and admit we can't control anything beforehand, let things flow naturally; let ideas click spontaneously; let people do things in their own way and also have some fun. That is the essence of sophisticated management discipline. People may have different values, different personalities, and different judgments based on different information as well, so they will select their route to reach their well-set goals, but they should always strive to become part of solutions without causing significant problems later on.

Keep in mind, attitude matters and “lessons learned” is invaluable. We cannot predict anything beforehand but can imagine with many experiences involved in the present or in the past. We cannot manipulate or over-control; but it’s important to collect quality information and constructive feedback, analyzing and synthesizing, doing enough homework for planning, but not overplanning; make provision to meet any eventuality; make necessary adjustments on the way to fit the emerging situation. It also includes planning in a short time and taking incremental effort, allowing the acquisition of new information along the way.

Take “multipath-logic”: Business world is dynamic and complex, traditional management based on reductionist linear logic is no longer effective in solving many of today’s problems and leading a digital savvy, diverse workforce. In fact, linear or bipolar thinking, poor or inaccurate judgment, miscommunication, illogical interpretations, and static processes all cause decision flaws which further lead to a series of issues cascaded into big problems and fatal business failures. There is nonlinear logic behind decision making because there are so many variables you just have to weigh, sometimes you have to sacrifice to save and other times you need to disable one thing to enable another. It takes multipath logic for defining the right problems and solving them alternatively.

We all have walked in the shoes and seen the problem or situation from the others’ point of view. At times, we may only want to see things from our own point of view- see what we want to see, or, hear-what-we-want-to-hear, we become part of the problem, rather than solution. The sophisticated leaders and professionals with strong nonlinear logic have the willingness and ability to seek out knowledge, help in facilitating continuous dialogues, acknowledging different or contrasting views and share the thoughts as to how it can address the issue under consideration without berating anyone for their views, and gain an in-depth understanding, in order to make sound decisions and choose solutions and move forward.

Step outside of the system: Organizations are the system; system thinking is positive because it helps understand the links between action, solution, and the different behaviors it might influence. A systems view of the world, encompasses impacts and consequences of our thinking and actions. Sophisticated business leaders and professionals not only work within the system; but they are also able to step outside of the system, fine-tune the system, see the interconnectivity between different systems, and help people become aware of the other "systems" that they interact with and the relationships between these systems. Interconnections and interdependencies are distinguished, wise choices and structural decisions are made. By working both in and on the system, solutions are made from a much broader and encompassing view that is not possible in linear thinking. It is both a detailed and holistic picture and captures the essence of system wisdom.

Methodologically, it is a great technique to leverage Systems Thinking for problem definition with boundaries, depending on what you consider relevant and endogenous as your hypothesis regarding why these things have evolved in a certain way. It is transformational to “step outside” of the system for having different perspectives to gain an in-depth understanding of business dynamics, provide an insight into the emergent inherent properties, both the positive emergent issues required and the negative emergent issues (both known and previously unrecognized problems) that come about. Organizations need a set of system tools that deal with muddy and chaotic information and platform-sorts of solutions to decomplex existing large-scale problems or emerging business properties and solve them effectively.

Sophisticated leaders and professionals are both intelligent and innovative; informative and intuitive; intrapreneural and insightful; set the guidance for problem-solving or creating something new under the updated digital rules, focus on the nature of interconnectivity rather than just on isolated entities, to refine their knowledge via the full “learning cycle, ”understand nonlinear cause-effect, master cognitive, technical, informational, and design complexity fluently.


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