Jonah Sachs, author of Unsafe Thinking, provides a detailed discussion on how we typically face changes in our world. As Sachs describes, the world is changing rapidly and while most of us realize that we need to grow and adapt, and ultimately evolve with these changes, doing so can be quite difficult. Humans love predictability and pattern so the question remains, how do we make room in our lives for change and for rising challenges? How do we embrace these changes and break through to new innovative ideas and concepts?
Sachs discusses the ‘backlash effect,’ which occurs when someone shares evidence with another that directly contradicts that person’s beliefs. The person, upon seeing the evidence, will actually dig in their heels and believe even more strongly than before, in spite of the contradictory evidence. Sachs states that although millions upon millions of dollars have been spent to find ways to persuade people, new science suggests that the best and most effective technique for success is for individuals or groups to discuss the values and beliefs that they do share, and how those can bring them together.
Sachs mentions some of the great blunders in which companies failed to see what was about to happen in their own industry as change became imminent. He mentions the transportation industry’s inability to see peer-to-peer ridesharing on the horizon, and Blockbuster’s inability to foresee internet and streaming revenue. Sachs discusses the potential key to success in business—significantly more investment in future innovation, and less investment in past successful business models and practices. As he explains, many times business leaders feel anxiety over change and innovation and instead of allowing it to challenge them they fall back upon past successes. But the key might simply be to allow these anxieties to fuel our creativity and boldly embrace change.
The change author explains that starting slow may be the way to move forward, and how experimentation could unlock real successes. Low arousal moments could be important time slots to enhance our creativity and let new ideas flourish, but often in our culture, we fill these moments with social media or other things that obstruct us from advancing new ideas. For it is sometimes actual downtime, such as a shower or a long run that allows innovative ideas to burst forward.
Sachs discusses how companies should be willing to create work environments that encourage pushing new ideas forward, allowing for unsafe thinking that creates challenges in a work environment that is no longer mired in old business mindsets. Risk taking and allowing employees to disagree and break rules can lead to major success. Sachs relates how being an explorer is actually much better than being an expert. Sachs states that growth and learning truly expand when we do things that we’re terrible at, as the challenges guide us to new ways of thinking.
The author explains how spending time with those who disagree with us, as opposed to those who share our beliefs, can open up new avenues of thinking and help us grow much more than we probably would expect. Unsafe thinking isn’t so much about literally going off the rails, but it is in fact about pushing ourselves deeper into challenging areas and mindsets that are more difficult, perhaps far outside of our comfort zone.