He noted that only half of corporate mergers are considered successful after five years—but that’s because of something he calls “organizational silence.” It’s not that different groups clash; it’s that different groups stop talking to each other and no longer apply their varying “cognitive mosaics” to better solve business problems.
“It’s not a matter of getting along well, but learning how to not get along well,” Snow said, explaining that researchers have found that lack of communication is a much better predictor of divorce than the number of fights a couple has.
So, what can a business leader, or anyone who wants to be a better collaborator, do to better harness the creative potential of what Snow calls “cognitive friction?” A key ingredient is intellectual humility. Basically, even if you think you’re right, realize that you might be wrong. On the flip side, when someone in a group has a “bad” idea, don’t be quick to dismiss it. Sometimes bad ideas can point the group towards an entirely new way of framing a problem.
“What this intellectual humility is all about is transcending your current thinking, and is the number one collaboration skill we can all develop,” he said.
Snow offered attendees three “hacks” that they could start using right away to foster intellectual humility:
- Force yourself to switch sides during an argument.
- Start your ideas with, “I could be wrong, but . . .”
- When you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to admit it with, “I don’t know, yet . . .”
Anyone who wants to evaluate their own intellectual humility can take Snow’s assessment at www.shanesnow.com/ih.
Closing his talk, Snow said, “As you go back to your families, your neighborhoods, your workplace, remember that you are part of a team, and we need each other to go further together.”
Check out our previous onsite reports this week from Workday Rising: “Workday Rising Daily: Welcoming the Workday Community,” “Workday Rising Daily: News Highlights from Innovation Keynote,” and “Workday Rising Daily: The Culture Imperative.”