13 Nov How to be radically open-minded
Every change needs people to make it possible. This sounds logical, but there is a major challenge: With their structures, rules, and top-down control, organizations are built to handle routine tasks – however, change is anything but routine. It locks swords with the established order, breaks up routines, and interrupts business as usual.
That disrupts the machinery of the organization, which is fundamentally oriented toward efficiency and output. And therein lies the problem: critics who point out that it is high time to change something are rejected by the organization’s immune system. The organizational immune system functions much like the human immune system in preventing viruses and bacteria from taking hold and damaging the body. The problem is that organizational immune systems also can attack agents of needed change.
The temptation is then to fight against new ideas and change and repeat the old formulas for success. Questions are no longer asked. People simply do what has been tried and tested. Further development? Unlikely. New territory? Remains unconquered. Growth? No chance.
Both is necessary: routine on the one hand and conscious breaking up of that very routine on the other. That is why organizations need agents of change who try to change and innovate at work, regardless of whether they have a formal position of authority. That is the core of a future-oriented and innovation-friendly organizational culture.
When we talk about REBELS AT WORK, these are exactly the people we mean.
Broad-Minded and Open to Change
Corporate rebels are not anarchists. They are not interested in rioting. Rather, they are passionate campaigners for a legitimate goal. Corporate rebels thus fight for themselves and for their organization at the same time. They are the loyal opposition within the organization. Their loyalty is not to any particular person or office, but to the continued success of the organization and those who labor on its behalf. They are intent on protecting the organization from mediocrity and veneration of the past.
As different as these people might be, there are notable characteristics they have in common: They are broad-minded. And open to change. We think “open-minded” is the perfect description. Be radically open-minded!
This is especially important today because openness and willingness to change are key requirements for digital transformation.
Radically Open-Minded – the Polar Opposite of Narrow-Mindedness
So, how open-minded are you? Of course, most people believe they are broad-minded and open to change. But is that really the case? Here are a few tips on how to judge the real situation:
- Many people just don’t like their opinion being questioned. It can happen when you express dissent a little too forcefully or question an opinion a little too loudly. In hierarchical structures in particular, it’s a career killer. However, we need to be aware that critical questioning and productive dissent are extremely important because they play a vital role in combatting office groupthink.
Radically open-minded means: Productive dissent? Bring it on! After all, it ultimately increases the quality of decision-making and moves organizations away from the danger of groupthink.
- In discussions, many people make statements and try to get their point across. They rarely ask open questions.
Radically open-minded means: I’m aware that my point of view could be wrong. That’s why I‘m willing to question my own opinions, which in turn requires the ability to self-reflect.
- It’s important to be understood. However, many people put less emphasis on making an effort to really understand others.
Radically open-minded means to take into consideration the point of view of the various stakeholders in the discussion. This contributes to a broader perspective on what are often very complex issues and increases the quality of decision-making.
What if you’re wrong?
In our experience, these three points provide a useful explanation of the term “radically open-minded”.
The first step:
Anyone who wants to apply this principle should, as a first step, honestly assess how open-minded they are in different areas of life. The three aforementioned tips for self-reflection are suitable for this.
The second step:
Look for other people who are “radically open-minded” and deliberately surround yourself with them. The more such people get together, the greater the influence on the culture of an organization. In a culture like that, dissent is not seen as betrayal of the common cause, but rather as a very important component of learning and driving change forward.
Being radically open-minded means being open to other perspectives, viewpoints, and arguments, but also being decisive, because in the end – once all the different arguments have been put on the table and debated – a decision needs to be made!
Here’s a simple question that is a great therapy for narrow-mindedness:
If two people disagree, it’s likely that one of them is wrong. What if it’s you?