The beginner’s mind
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.
Das Beste sollte nie hinter uns, sondern immer vor uns liegen.
Great leaders are like great orchestra conductors…bringing different instruments together to make beautiful music.
Grundsätzlich ist man schlecht beraten, auf die Schwäche der Wettbewerber zu setzen.
It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
Quite some days ago a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt came into my focus:
Great minds discuss ideas,
Average minds discuss events,
Small minds discuss people.
Nice, isn’t it? I personally prefer open discussions where everybody is free to address his or her ideas, whatever comes to his or her mind. I expect almost everybody will agree. The question is, what happens if you select a couple of great minds randomly from our planet put them together in a room and observe how things are evolving. How do they know that it’s safe to share their ideas? How do they know that the others in the room are also great minds? This question does not come out of the blue. Let me share an experience with you I made some years ago.
When I entered that specific organization whose name I’m not going to disclose, they were discussing people. They were literally discussing people in the boardroom. Whenever something went wrong or any outcome was below expectations somebody was blamed, preferably blue-collar staff. It was not the “Hey we have a problem – How can we solve it – How can we make sure it’s not going to hit us a second time” kind of approach. It was always a he or she who was the root cause and was accused and needed to change behavior. And guess what, what happens in the boardroom happens at all other levels and locations within the company as well. Sooner or later it will permeate into the entire organization.
This is the point where the question arises. Does that imply that the entire organization consists only of simple or small minds? Was it the fault of the individual people? What would have happened to my mind if I had stayed long enough and listened? In fact it was the company culture that over the years drifted away and made room for such kind of behavior. It was an old habit. The company culture drove the individual people’s behavior. It was the answer to the “What makes the people behave the way they behave?”-question.
It was a stony and bumpy road to change the culture and to get them to a habit of open discussions, an atmosphere where people are safe to speak and share their ideas and raise their questions. It was worth each extra mile! Besides a much more relaxed and fun working atmosphere it did pay off in other areas as well. It helped to increase the quality and to foster innovation as ideas where shared and discussed, tested and rolled-out.
Why is it important for me? I have tons of ideas and as well questions. And I am far from being an expert in every topic. In fact I am more the exploring kind of guy, looking for fresh input, new experiences meaning new businesses and industries all the time. Very likely I’ll step into something as a rookie with ideas and questions on top of my head.
Early on in my professional career I experienced this open culture at The Boston Consulting Group aka BCG. It was a supportive environment, where ideas could be openly discussed, questions could be raised without any fear of failure. Was that due to the fact that we were surrounded only by great minds? If you would ask anybody at BCG, I’m sure they would immediately confirm that there are only great minds. But it was also a cultural topic. Since then it is hard wired to my leadership style and closely related to my personal WHY.
If you want to build a lasting business which creates sustainable value, you need a culture of open discussions, a culture of trust. That is enabling an organization for agility and to create continuous innovations. Great minds are less a matter of their brains and the IQ of the people, it is more about their behavior and attitude. Foster a culture of great minds which are open to discuss ideas, and you will automatically create a sustainable organization.
It is as easy as this, but also quite tough in reality. Isn’t it? Did you ever try? It is worth trying.
Business-Development – Buy & Build – Consolidation – Market-Entry – Mergers & Acquisitions – Operational-Excellence – Post-Merger-Integration – Business-Innovation – Specialization & Standardization
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access – acknowledge – act – adjust – analyze – apply – arbitrate – argue – arrange – assign – assist – benchmark – boost – breakdown – build – calibrate – change – channel – collect – combine – commit – communicate – connect – construct – contribute – control – convince – create – de-average – decide – deliver – determine – develop – diagnose – differentiate – elevate – embrace – empower – enable – ensure – enter – expect – experience – experiment – extend – feel – fight – find – finish – follow – force – form – fuel – gain – gather – go – guarantee – guide – help – identify – illustrate – improve – innovate – install – invent – involve – launch – lead – learn – level – locate – look – measure – moderate – monitor – move – navigate – observe – offer – orchestrate – own – package – partner – plan – please – position – practice – proceed – promise – promote – provide – questioning – raise – receive – reduce – refine – relate – request – require – resist – respond – risk – safeguard – search – see – serve – share – shift – simplify – spark – spread – start – stimulate – support – surprise – synchronize – target – teach – team – test – train – transform – trigger – understand – update – utilize – visualize – win – work
On the power of a clear vision
“Are you sure you wanna do this?….” crushed into my head while I was sitting in the small and dark office of Mr. P. It was a warm und sunny day in July of 2000. I knew everybody else was outside enjoying the summer and the remainder was founding New-Economy startups and becoming both famous and millionaire over night.
It is more than 15 years ago now and still feels like yesterday. Actually I can see the scene right in front of me when I close my eyes. I am more the visual type of guy, but we will come to that later on.
“Yes” I pushed back boldly, “I’ll find Max O. – son of the incredible Dedekind and provide you with evidence proving his existence by end of this summer!” I committed myself to this quest, an endeavor of two months through dark, cold and stony fields while every body else was having fun. What the hell made me do that?
OK, if you didn’t get it by now, I am talking about my PhD thesis. And I committed myself to bring a detailed proof and an algorithm to provide maximal orders over Dedekind domains. Which is a topic from algorithmic algebraic number theory, it is mathematics. I promised my PhD advisor to submit my PhD thesis by the end of the summer break, which meant within the next two months. The question is still waiting to be answered: Why did I commit to this?
Usually it is uncommon within natural science to sell the result before you know a detailed proof. After all the answer is simple: It just felt right! I had a clear vision. It was my gut feeling telling me this is the result I can show. This will be the PhD thesis I will be able to submit. It will be a result I will be proud of because it has some beauty built into it. But how can this work out? My gut feeling presenting a crazy idea which I call vision? Shouldn’t a vision be based on structured deductive analysis? Fact based reasoning ad decently thought through?
Going back in time to July of 2000. It was a strange feeling. After months of research in the dark and outmoded academic library, reading through dusted books, reading back and forth concepts in different environments, old and new, the idea bloomed by itself. Today I know that this was not a coincidence. Studying the field in different environments allowed me to view this topic from different angles, to take different perspectives. This helped me to understand the commonality as well as the specialties of the various situations. This was the fundament of my understanding of the topic.
Allow you brain – you imagination to play with it and it will create ideas. In my case it was a picture. I literally saw how all the bits and pieces fit together and build up a huge colorful mosaic. This proves as well that I am a visual guy. Remember that I promised you also to deliver this proof.
With a vision you have the most powerful tool in your hands, it can be the ultimate turbo boost to achieve your goal. I had the vision for my PhD thesis. I saw it. I saw how the orders and the ideals, the radicals and the modules played together over the quotient field of their underlying Dedekind domain. – Sorry for that, I could not resist to put in these technical mathematical terms.
They formed such a beautiful picture that this must have been a vision. It was probably not the first vision I had in my life. But it was definitely the first one I realized. This vision gave me the strength to commit myself, to work hard on the details and submit my PhD by the end of the summer of 2000.
Was it a brainy vision or just a crazy gut feeling? Regardless of what you call it, it was not inductively derived, it was not a reasoned approach, I hadn’t had the proof for it all. Nevertheless – and this is my main point – it was based on extreme research and experience in the field. I did not come out of the blue.
A gut feeling or intuition is always based on strong experience and knowledge and created by your brain and not by your gut. If you are able to realize these feelings, to use your intuition that is a great skill.
Let your intuition build a vision. Visions are strong. If you have one your should use it. Share it with others and get them engaged. Try it out and enjoy.