It’s Not What You Think, But How

If you were to spend any time at all walking around the halls of Marketing Workshop, you would no doubt hear the word “collaboration”.   More specifically, you’d hear us using the form, “co-laboring”.

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much"

Helen Keller

While the word is probably on many lists of business buzzwords that need to go away,  we use it very intentionally.  As a small company, it is important that we can work well – meaning, “effectively and efficiently” – with each other.

Recently, I came across a book that has helped us toward that goal: Collaborative Intelligence by Dawna Markova and Angie McArthur.  One of the ways the  authors define collaborative intelligence is, “a measure of your ability to think with others on behalf of what matters to us all.  ” There are many helpful  aspects of the book, but as a company we have focused on two in particular to help us better work collaboratively.

The first aspect concerns the way we think.  The authors point out that there are three states of attention (Focused, Sorting and Open) as well as what  they call ‘languages of thought’, (Auditory, Kinesthetic and Visual).  The general idea is that we all think differently and use different thought  languages for different states of attention.  This framework provides us with six ‘Mind Patterns’.   Here’s why it helps: If we know how the other people  on our team think, we can better provide the atmosphere for them, specifically – and the team as a whole – to best work together.

The best way to explain why this knowledge is helpful is probably an example.  For me, being a Focused Visual thinker, it is best for me to read something  if I really want it to stick in my brain.  Additionally, if I want to think through a problem, I should exercise (or my preference, go for a run) as a  Kinesthetic Sorting type of thinker.  Finally, if I want to brainstorm or do some “blue sky” kind of thinking, I should listen to music, since I’m  classified as an Open Auditory type of thinker.  Hopefully, this helps to somewhat illustrate how an understanding of how your own brain works, as well as those of your teammates, can help you provide the best situations for thinking success.

The second idea deals with our individual Thinking Talents.  The authors present a list of 35, “innate ways of thinking”.  The talents are then grouped into  four quadrants: analytic, innovative, procedural and relational.  The principle is that if we understand the talents that we all have, and more  specifically, which of those four quadrants are our sweet spots, we can form more complete project teams by ensuring all needed types of thinking are  included.  Almost every type of project you will embark on requires some sort of analytic, innovative, procedural and relational thinking. It gives us the best chance at success when we include all aspects.

Several weeks ago we had an internal workshop to work through all of this material.  A poster hangs in my office to remind me of everyone’s ‘thought  language’. It was very interesting to see which folks were similar – and different – in the way they think. It helped explain why some people seemed to  work better together than others.  And looking back, why some projects weren’t as successful as others. There are some excellent resources on the authors’  website, if you are interested in understanding these concepts in more depth.

So, does this make all of our office interactions at Marketing Workshop perfect?  Absolutely not!  That isn’t the point.  The point is that we are constantly  working at improving.  These are all tools that help us to work better together.  By better understanding that we all a) think differently and b) have  different strengths, we can build better teams and create a better environment for success once those teams are formed.  In short, it’s all part of what we  consider being researchWISE®!

~ Bud Sanders

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