What kind of thinker are you?

Those who know me know that my posts are original. Rarely "curo" contents, let alone reworked them. But this article has reached my soul and it would seem a pity that I could not reach everyone for a linguistic issue. So, without more, I've set out to translate it – in my own way- so you can enjoy it the way I did.

Although I'm not very friendly with stereotypes, the authors of this article published in Harvard Business Review, Mark Bonchek and Elisa Steele, have hit the nail on the head in an aspect that I've been suspicious for a long time: they value us, assess and rank based on our executive competencies (in what we know how to do) but not in the way we think. I leave there. A greeting.

What kind of thinker are you?

We all aspire to work better together. Technology is making it easier for us to do that. But digital tools are just one part of the answer. It's the people who ultimately make a difference.

The problem is that collaboration technologies are evolving faster than our ability as people to learn how to use them. What can be done to close that gap? A year ago we set out to find the answer, based on the collective experience of various collaborative communities and learning organizations. Here's what we found:

In most organizations there is a standard set of tools that we use to Form, lead and manage teams. They include evidence of Personality, profiles Competences And Functions team. When you put a team together, takes into account the personalities of its members: Are Introverted Or Outgoing?, ¿take risks or avoid them?, Are Analytical Or Intuitive?

If you take into account your skills: What is your specific area of Talent, Experience Or Knowledge? And it takes into account their potential role in the team: What will be your contribution to the Purpose team?

We usually think of executive roles, as a team leader, project manager, or researcher. When we need a decision, we went to the team leader. When we want to know the status of a project we will look for the project manager. If we need to know the results of a study, we go to the head of research.

But in today's market, the smartest companies are not the ones that necessarily produce more than the competition; are the ones who think better than their competition. And while there are a lot of tools that help us quickly understand what our teammates do, it's more hard to know how they think. Research shows that ultimately, it's more relevant to know how teams think to determine their performance.

We therefore propose that in the same way that today's teams have members with executive roles Assigned, there should also be members with thought roles. Knowing how they think the team and the organization can better channel Energy, The Commitment, The Creativity and the Productivity.

One aspect of collaboration is about getting people to be lined up in what they do. But in a different dimension it's about getting people aligned based on how they think.

So how can we evaluate a team based their thinking? There are frameworks of how one thinks or influences each member of a team. But we can't find any simple means of evaluation that indicates how people Connect, se Communicate And Collaborate based on the way you think. So after a large phase co-creation and methods of trial and error, we have developed a three-step method delivering practical and meaningful results.

Focus. The first step is identify the focus of your thinking in a particular context or place. Do you tend to pay more attention to Ideas, Processes, Action, Or Relations? For example, at the start of the day, do you tend to think about the problems you need to solve, the plans you need to put in place, the actions you need to implement, or the people you need to see?

One thing doesn't exclude the other. This is where our focus falls naturally. Another example: when we want to read a book or watch a movie, do we naturally opt for action, romance, drama, or the mystery?

Orientation. The next step is to realize whether our orientation in that environment tilts towards the macro or the micro, towards the big picture or into the details. A good way to identify this orientation is to think about what bothers us in meetings. Is it more likely that we are annoyed to be dragged into the most specific or towards overly general and uns specific aspects?

These dimensions are complementary to the Personality, The Skills and Roles Traditional. Some project managers are more inclined to focus on the process and others people. And some are more oriented towards the general view of the forest and others towards the trees.

The third step is to combine these two dimensions and see the style of thought at work in any context or place we've chosen.

what kind of thinker you are

For example, in the big picture (Forest) or macro orientation:

  • Explorer is the thinker focused on generating creative ideas.
  • Planner is the thinker who focuses on designing effective systems.
  • Channeler is the thinker who tries to mobilize people to action.
  • Connector is the thinker focused on building and strengthening relationships.

Across micro orientation (Tree) or detail:

  • Expert is the thinker who tries to achieve objectivity and knowledge.
  • Optimizer is the thinker who tries to improve productivity and efficiency.
  • Producer is the thinker who seeks to achieve the completion of projects and their impulse.
  • Coach is the thinker who wants to empower people and their potential.

When we know what our way of thinking is, we'll know what moves us naturally, we'll know why some problems are a Challenge and others bore us, and we'll know what we can do to improve in the areas that are important to achieving our goals.

Once we know how we think, it will be helpful to share it with others, and get others to share them with us. In this way, our way of thinking will become a useful tool – kind of a social currency – for the team. If we try to organize a team to work on a new project, wouldn't it be positive to know in advance who is mobilized by more general discussions (Forest) and who can find them frustrating? Who likes to work on the details of the execution? And who is motivated and put in place with the management of the dynamics of the team?

As real case, one company had all its leadership team identified in their roles as managers and leaders. Analyzing a heat map results, realized they had a lot of Explorers and a lot of Channelers and Producers, but few Planners and Optimizers. The team was great at coming up with great ideas and mobilizing action, But Weak in data processing and making things work efficiently.

With this new information in hand, began to give entry to those whose thinking focused more on the details. Culture and recruitment strategies also changed to create a more balanced and diverse style of thinking.

As individual case, a leader had always operated in creative-oriented environments such as consulting and marketing. But by identifying his style of thinking, realized that she was more motivated by relationships than by ideas. Her orientation was more towards Connector than to Explorer. She used ideas to foster relationships, rather than relationships to foster ideas. This idea led her to change the focus of his work towards account management and business development, which led her to much higher levels of performance and commitment.

The business environment is changing rapidly, and that forces us to find new and better ways to connect and communicate. We all aspire to work better as a team; the challenge is actually to make it happen. Understanding the collaborative model from the perspective of thought rather than the traditional optics of action is a powerful forward step forward.


Mark Bonchek @MarkBonchek is founder and CEO of SHIFT Thinking, helps leaders and organizations update their thinking in the digital age.

Elisa Steele @elisasteele is CEO and president of Jive, company focused on communication and collaborative solutions for business.

Posted in Harvard Business Review under the title "What kind of thinker are you" the 23 November 2015.

Translated and cured by Guillem Recolons, December 2015.

Top picture: Freepik

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6 thoughts on "What kind of thinker are you?”

  1. Even if you've only limited yourself to translating it, I thank you from the heart for sharing this article, of great value to people who work in personal environments in organizations. Certainly, regardless of people's thinking, Their “Skills” knowledge may not be enough for the right gear of the equipment. A cordial greeting,

    A. Pascual

  2. Hello Guillem, super the article. I love ranking based on these two variables, now we need to make it useful. What happens if we make her run in time? If we measure our thinking at different times. Surely our position will vary and the smart thing to do will be to choose the person who can best adapt from one category to another.
    I always recommend and procure, think mic, go up to macro, go down to micro and so continuously so that we miss the possible variables involved in the problem. It would also be very clever to know how to determine at what stage of the focus we are, be aware that we're talking at every moment (among humans complicated) to be able to contribute the maximum at any given time. This classification serves us both to classify people as a macro guide to problem solving.
    Very interesting, thank you for sharing it.

    A greeting and until the next, by the way enjoy these parties. Bon Nadal

    • Thank you Pedro, I find it interesting your contribution to how we think over time, as it is usually analyzed on a static basis “Today”. I'm glad the article has given you. A Greeting and Bon Nadal!

  3. Great guillem contribution, a very interesting tool to look for the personal and professional role in a personal brand positioning strategy in the company.

    We'll leave Jung's Archetypes for storytelling.



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