Too many specific instructions, details to be memorized and repeated brainlessly, compartmentalization at nauseamâ€¦A flood of reports suggest that many business people are so specific and linear in their thinking they cannot see the forest because of the twig.
This is one of the reasons why many talented and hardworking business people, cannot get promoted on higher positions although they are perfectly capable people.
So, let’s take a step back and try to figure out (from an NLPCoaching point of view) what’s going on. We live in a very specialized, narrowly contextualized and highly compartmentalized society. Oh, oh! Only by reading these words your head begins to spin. Narrowly what?!?
That’s one of my points. We have specialists in everything. Specialists in garage door openers (but not the electronic ones), specialists in garage door openers – this time the electronic ones but not after 1995, specialists in garage doors locks, specialists in wooden garage doors, specialists in white metal garage doors, specialists in green metal garage doorsâ€¦ you get the point. And none of them knows what the other one does.
***Disclaimer – garage door specialists, do not get mad. I just had today my garage door fixed by a very nice and smart guy; this is the only reason why I thought of garage doors.
But you get the point. Specialization and compartmentalization has created a lot of different job types. But unfortunately has also created a different type of thinking. Linear, specific, unable to see the big picture, and therefore caught in the box of its own specialty.
One of the characteristics of the human brain is that it draws associations. This is what it does. Meaning that it sees something here and it associates that idea with something else in a totally different context. But if you don’t have any other knowledge of any other context but your narrow one, where do you draw associations from?
Cannot See the Forest – Too Many Twigs
In one of our NLPCoaching Master Practitioner Trainings, a student asked us very puzzled: how do you use this material in business? And proceeded to quote us the procedures that she had to do as a Human Relations department trainer. All she knew were the tight procedures she was taught and which she repeated dutifully.
Is what you’re doing solving the problems you’re having in the corporation, we asked. No, she said. This is why I am here.
To us,this came as a major surprise. She could not see how to apply the material from the Master Practitioner in business? The whole Master Practitioner is geared towards business: Meta-programs, Values alignment in a corporation or in the board of directors, negotiation and mediation processes using the latest NLP developments in the field, Spin and advanced language patternsâ€¦ what, are you kidding???
Just look around: every politician (the better ones) and business tycoon uses NLP. It was absolutely incredible that she simply could not draw any associations and conclusions on the practical applications of the Master Practitioner NLP patterns for business. Her thinking was so linear, so detailed that she was lost in the details. She absolutely could not see the forest because of too many itsy-bitsy twigs.
She was very good in plugging in her website and the name of her corporation – she repeated fast and energetic several times the key points. In other words for that corporation she was an ideal employee, promoting it well, and regurgitating the corporate line perfectly (but also mechanically and brainlessly).
Only that, in spite of her really hard work and dedication to the corporation, her job was now in jeopardy. Her results in solving the burning problems in the HR department were scanty at best. Her performance as a trainer was considered to be unsatisfactory and she could not understand why.
So, Who Really Benefits From This Kind of Thinking?
As most of you NLP Practitioners already know, there are two types of thinking: detailed, specific and linear; and big picture, intuitive and taking it big concepts at once. This is combined with deductive thinking and inductive thinking. Deductive thinking starts with a hypothesis, or a general conclusion (you can think of this like a box), and finds all the specific pieces in that box which support the initial hypothesis or conclusion. Inductive thinking starts with one piece of information and draws associations to other pieces of information reaching a general conclusion only later.
Many highly specialized and highly compartmentalized people think in the domain of specificity, linearly (that is sequentially – one piece of information after the other) and cannot easily sort by associations and relationships. They simply are not taught from school how to do this.
Granted, specific and detailed information is necessary, of course. But specific and detailed, linear ONLY type of thinking can keep someone in the box and stifle their creativity and their ability to solve problems. All you can do in this situation is to be nit-picking and go round and round in the same box, when the solution is definitely somewhere else – certainly outside of the box.
But who benefits? Certainly not herself! She was a very dutiful and extremely precise executor of procedures for that corporation. So the corporation was happy! Good employee! But from her point of view, there was no justification (and also no advantage) for having her own ability to think caught so tightly in a box. And many of the talented and hard-working people in business are simply unaware of this.
To drive home this point further, just consider how many people are unable to get the promotion they so much want or expect. Yes, it is possible that (not because it is their fault) their thinking does not allow them to move up the ladder, or keeps them stuck in the same old box.
Paradoxically, when taught how to think differently, and given the ability to move in their thinking freely from small details to big picture at will, these people find with amazement that it is not only easy, but also fun. And here is why. It is fun to be able to control the conversation, by controlling the level of specificity or abstraction. And here is a big tip for you all. If you want somebody to agree with you (like your boss for example), talk to him or her only in big picture. It is hard to disagree with that. Big picture leads to agreement. Details lead always to disagreement.