innovation, creativity, business leadership, problem solving, change management

The Third Brain

I’d like to continue last week’s topic and talk some more about innovation and creativity and the need for businesses and organizations to foster more of both.

A lot has been written about our two-hemisphere brain, and I’m sure you’re familiar with the scientific discoveries in right-brain-left-brain functionality and the various attributes assigned each hemisphere.

Essentially, the two sides of our brain enable us to solve problems with both logic and intuition.

While each of us tends to favor one over the other, both sides of our brain can work together to solve problems, which is called “third-brain” thinking.

Third brain thinking lies between inductive reasoning (observation) and deductive reasoning (proof). Or better yet, it flips between both at any given moment and becomes “abductive” reasoning, which falls in the realm of creativity and imagination.

In other words, third brain thinkers see what could be instead of only what is.

Third brain thinkers have the ability to zoom in and zoom out on a creative problem — zooming out to see the bigger strategic picture and then zooming in to concentrate on the details, much like an artist working on a painting.

Third-brain thinkers tend to have the following traits in large quantities: empathy, intuition, imagination and idealism.

Unfortunately, the business world tends to translate these qualities as soft-hearted, illogical, scatterbrained and obstinate.

So let’s look at why businesses and organizations need more people with these very qualities.

Empathy: In today’s customer-centric world, people who truly understand how customers and supporters think, feel and act are worth their weight in gold credit cards.

And people with empathy form strong bonds with partners, fellow employees, contractors and their own staff. Tell me how that’s a bad thing?

Intuition: People with intuition see the whole picture. While the logical mind works through a problem in a linear a-then-b-then-c-then-d fashion, the intuitive mind jumps around in a d-to-b-to-m fashion, throws in z-x-p for good measure and, oh, by the way, did I mention q?

When logic is combined with intuition, you have the makings of a great leader. And what business or organization can’t use more of those?

Imagination: Do I really need to defend this one? New ideas only come from divergent thinking, not convergent thinking. Someone once said, “You can’t dig a new hole by digging the same one deeper.”

People with imagination come with their own shovels and a penchant for virgin soil.

Idealism: If your company’s or organization’s goal is to transform an existing situation into a new one, then you need people who are often described as histrionic, headstrong and pensive.

Idealists are notorious for focusing on what’s wrong, what’s missing and what needs to be changed.

Idealists can be hard to put up with at times, but they thrive on change and know how to make it happen.

If you want change to occur in your business or organization, you need at least one idealist with policy-making clout.

If you look inside today’s leading and growing companies and organizations, I bet you’ll find most are led and managed by third-brain thinkers.

After all, three brains are better than one.