I dare to contribute because I advocate for a type of diversity that is not generally considered in board selection—the color of one’s brain! Based on science, built for business, a “thinking style” assessment is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to enhance group effectiveness. And, heaven knows boards can use all the help they can get in becoming more effective!
Trained in Organization Development and working as a coach, I’ve been exposed to hundreds of assessments. The objective of most is to build self-awareness and awareness of others. You’re probably familiar with many personality assessments if you’ve been in the corporate world for any length of time: DISC, INSIGHTS, MBTI. There are Emotional Intelligence assessments, social intelligence assessments and a multitude of others. So why Thinking Styles?
It’s been my experience that many of the above mentioned assessments are viewed as too fluffy, airy-fairy, or not substantive by many managers, especially in the science and engineering fields. But start to discuss the way a person THINKS and the credibility of the conversation skyrockets with many business people.
In the Rhodes Thinking Intention Profile, thinking is broken down into three driving forces and color-coded: Blue Thinking – Determining what matters and coming to judgment, Red Thinking – Determining ‘what is true,’ striving to gather and understand facts, information and reality about people and Green Thinking – striving to understand what is possible, future oriented thinking.
So, how does this apply to boards and diversity, you may be wondering? Almost everyone has a dominant style of thinking – the red thinker (just the facts, ma’am) is the one in every meeting that loves to dive into the minutiae, that asks question after question about the smallest details. And if you are a blue thinker (trying to come to judgment), this red thinker has driven you crazy at every board meeting in which you have been together…unless and until you gain some understanding about the way you both think. This understanding can build greater effectiveness on any team, including a board of directors.
I remember when I was first exposed to this assessment. My mentor gave an example of a company where he was hired to help a team that had been together for two years with no discernible results. There were originally 12 people on the team when he sent them the assessment. As he reviewed the results, he noticed that 11 of the 12 were primarily green thinkers (envisioning the future and possibilities). Every meeting devolved into “we could do this,” or “we could do that,” or “why don’t we try this?” And no decisions were every made. The one lone blue thinker on the team was going crazy because no one would make a decision and quit the team before my mentor was able to work with the group. However, by helping the team understand their thinking styles and the potential issues, they were able to develop solutions and produce results!
How many board meetings have you attended where the talking goes on and one and on? Perhaps some consideration of the diversity of thinking styles is in order for your team.