Laziness and First Impressions: Barriers to Integrative Thinking

In this article, author Michael Michalko argues that cognitive laziness is one of the greatest barriers to integrative thinking. He points out that first impressions of problems, just like first impressions of people, are narrow and superficial. If this mentality is never changed, it prevents alternative ways of looking at the problem, meaning that integrative thinking will never surface. To remove any biases or assumptions resulting from a first impression, Michalko recommended taking Leonardo DaVinci’s advice: always look at a problem in at least three different ways in order to get a better understanding; or Sigmund Freud: “reframe” a problem in order to transform it and look at it from a different perspective.

This suggests patience. Unfortunately, laziness is inherently the result of impatience.

Thus, cognitive laziness becomes a barrier to entry, the entry point being integrative thinking. In order to gain a deeper understanding of a problem at hand, particularly in a business context, how does one motivate oneself or others in order to get rid of cognitive laziness? Getting rid of biases/assumptions is easier said than done. How would you go about this to achieve integrative thinking? Any thoughts?


3 Responses to Laziness and First Impressions: Barriers to Integrative Thinking

  • I think the best way is to hold workshops that encourage “deeper” thinking. The workshop should have examples that combat narrow minded thinking. For example, many people consider the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit to be frivolous. The workshop can begin with getting everyone’s opinion on this topic. When most people agree with this assertion (which is usually the case), the workshop presenter will counter this point with the fact that the old woman had only asked McDonald’s to pay for her medical fees and nothing else. When McDonald’s refused, the lawsuit was initiated. The presenter will also include the fact that the woman required skin grafts for the damage the coffee caused. The workshop will have several examples like this to drill the point home and will then relate it to narrow minded thinking in the organization, thereby encouraging integrative thinking.

  • I agree with Thomas – workshops that involve discussion around controversial issues require participants to be open-minded and salient in their consideration of all possible aspects concerning the subject. However, I think it would be better in a workshop like that to only have the presenter include a counterpoint when needed, and mostly provide as a mediator. The integrative thinking part should come from the people in the workshop, who will need to form deeper, more detailed conclusions on their own. Forming a solid opinion on a complex subject and being able to defend or change it appropriately in the face of other informed perspectives is an excellent way of developing integrative and critical thinking.

  • In the end, I think it boils down to if the topic is interesting enough for any one person to be engaged. To encourage integrative thinking, everyone must be ignored in a way that is interesting to them so they can contribute creatively. Additionally, I also agree in Thomas’s suggestion with the workshops that encourage deeper thinking.

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