In his latest book, Winning the Brain Game, published by McGraw-Hill Education (May 2016), Matthew May explains how to fix each of what he characterizes as “the 7 fatal flaws of thinking.” They all share the same prefix.
Here’s how to correct your thinking after
1. Leaping to a premature conclusion: Generate multiple ways to frame the given issues.
2. Fixating on one solution to the explosion of all others: Shift thinking from the current reality of how things are in order to pursue the possibility of how they could — perhaps should be.
3. Overthinking that creates problems that weren’t even there in the first place: Initiate prototesting, a combination of prototyping and testing. As Einstein suggests, “make everything as simple as possible but no simpler.”
4. Satisficing by glomming on to what’s easy and obvious to stop seeking the best or optimal solution: Use integrative thinking to merge the very best parts of 2-3 opposing but satisficing solutions “in an elegant mash-up that defeats the tendency to satisfice and settle for anything less than the best solution. The fix for Satisfying is thus: Synthesis.”
5. Downgrading to the point of wholesale disengagement from the given challenge: “The fix for Downgrading is Jumpstarting defined just as it is in the dictionary: starting a stalled vehicle whose battery is drained by connecting it to another source of power.”
6. Not invented here (NIH) happens: Eliminate that automatic, knee-jerk reaction to any idea developed elsewhere, the fix is from Procter & Gamble’s Connect and Develop innovation program: Proudly Found Elsewhere. This will open minds “to let in, leverage, and recycle the ideas and solutions of others,” whoever and wherever they may be.
7. Self-censoring: Eliminate further diminishment of you and your value (“mental masochism”); think of yourself (as Adam Smith suggests) as an impartial spectator to the given circumstances. “Psychologists refer to it as self-distancing , and as the name implies, the concept is one of distancing yourself from well, you.”
May devotes a separate chapter to each of the seven, explaining their causes, consequences, and probable implications.