Want to Reinvent? Take the Thinking Challenge

The title of Chapter Five in my book How to Grow A Backbone (ISBN: 978-0-8092-2494-4) is “Expand and Contract: Your Thinking Must Change.”

The theme of the January-February 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review is “Reinvent.” In a variety of articles, readers are repeatedly encouraged to rethink where they are; reassess assumptions, roles, and links in a changing marketplace; rewrite playscripts and re-energize their organizations.

To do these things, we must embrace the challenge to expand and contract our thinking. On one hand, we need to step back from our work to expand our vision, search a broader world, and develop a relevant context for our endeavors. On the other hand, we must guard against distraction and the danger of being led far astray from our work by interesting but irrelevant information. There’s a lot of noise out there!

As a concept, this is easy to understand. In practice, it is difficult to do well. Purposely seeking out different perspectives and opposing viewpoints is not something we rush to do. Challenging current assumptions and questioning the status quo can feel risky. As leaders and decision-makers, we are taught to develop a point of view and hold it with conviction.

Which makes my point all the more compelling. In order to develop a strong point of view that is relevant to today’s challenges and opportunities, the discipline of sorting and sifting through enormous amounts of data to create information and act upon it is essential.

Sadly, it seems that discipline fell out of favor some time ago. About that same time information exploded. Technology spread the explosion. We need a refresher course on how to scan the global information horizon to see what is happening out there and apply it to what we are trying to accomplish in here.

Expand and contract. If you are serious about thriving in challenging times, your thinking must develop this kind of flexibility and purpose. Read chapter five in my book and dig into the archives of Harvard Business Review. Then make time to think.

Categories: Business

About Susan Marshall

founder susan marshall

Susan A. Marshall is author, speaker and founder, whose mission is to create a stronger, more confident future, one person or team at a time.  Through personal experience and hands-on work with executives from diverse industries at all levels, Susan has had the privilege of helping thousands of people do the difficult and exhilarating work of growth.