What's your workplace thinking style?

A woman with a book sits on a bench at the departure area at the Fraport airport in Frankfurt November 14, 2012. Frankfurt airport's new Mandarin-speaking personal shopper service is just one example of how leisure and travel firms in crisis-struck Europe are trying to tap into the seemingly inexhaustible spending power of Chinese tourists. Value-added tax (VAT) refund data shows that Chinese travellers, who could overtake Germans as the world's biggest spenders on foreign travel this year, top the tax free shopping leaderboard in European cities like Paris, London and Frankfurt.  Picture taken November14, 2012.  REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Knowing which type of thinker you are can be a useful tool Image: REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Are you an optimizer or a connector? An explorer or an expert?

Pinpointing exactly what type of thinker you are could help not only you, but your entire organization, argue two experts in an article for Harvard Business Review. Most organizations use a standard set of tools to form, manage and motivate teams. However, they often overlook how people think.

“Today’s marketplace, the smartest companies aren’t those that necessarily out-produce the competition. Instead, it’s the organizations that outthink them,” Mark Bonchek and Elisa Steele write.

Why does it matter?

The authors highlight research that shows effective collective thinking has a major influence on performance. However, while it’s (normally) clear what our colleagues are doing, how they think is much harder to define.

They argue, by understanding how you and the rest of the team is thinking, we could all be more energized, more creative, more productive and make better decisions.

To help us, the authors have created a three-step process for defining how you and your team think.

So how do you think?

Step number one: Where does your thinking focus? Do you zero in on the idea, the process, the action, or relationships? It’s not about picking one over another, it’s about where you naturally focus.

Step number two: Where does your thinking orient? Towards the big picture or the detail?

Step number three: Combine these using the chart below to see your thinking style.

The authors define each style as follows:

· Explorer thinking is about generating creative ideas.

· Planner thinking is about designing effective systems.

· Energizer thinking is about mobilizing people into action.

· Connector thinking is about building and strengthening relationships.

· Expert thinking is about achieving objectivity and insight.

· Optimizer thinking is about improving productivity and efficiency.

· Producer thinking is about achieving completion and momentum.

· Coach thinking is about cultivating people and potential.

Once you know your style, it’ll become clear what gets you out of bed in the morning, what challenges you and how you can improve.

You and your team can then share your styles. “In this way, your thinking style becomes a useful tool – a kind of social currency – for the team,” they argue. From here you can build more effective, collaborative teams, who make better decisions – for both themselves individually, and also the company.

They conclude that businesses need to incorporate thinking into their team forming, motivation and management.

Certainly something to think about.

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