Trying to innovate but getting nowhere? It may not be the app or service you’re trying to fix. It might be your brain, specifically your instincts. “Outsmart Your Instincts: How The Behavioral Innovation™ Approach Drives Your Company Forward”, written by three experts in product managers, helps readers overcome the mental biases and traps that block them from reaching a new level of strategic and creative thinking.
In a world filled with uncertainty and doubt, even decision makers can default to gut instinct. And while intellectually, as a leader you may recognize that instincts can be wrong, you probably don’t fully understand how wrong they can be. At least this is what one book, Outsmart Your Instincts: How the Behavioral Innovation Approach Drives Your Company Forward wants readers to consider. The book travels through some of the most consistent instinctual errors that everyone (including you) repeatedly engage in and offers hacks, tips and principles for eliminating or minimizing these errors so you can work more efficiently and productivity.
Outsmart Your Instincts details the many ways instincts fool a decision maker into thinking too quickly, thinking too confidently, or thinking with a very limited perspective. Humans, the book says, have two primary modes of thinking, System 1 (automatic) and System 2 (reflective) thinking. (This concept was popularized in the book “Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.). System 1 thinking allows you to brush your teeth, get dressed, and find your way to the office without having to rethink each step every single time. System 2 thinking allows you to think through a decision, learn a new task, or memorize a new password.
The book’s central point is that humans are hard-wired to stay in System 1 thinking. The brain has a lot of work to do so it looks for any shortcut or hack to make the job a bit easier. The good thing about this is that System 1 thinking helps process information quickly. For example, your brain can focus on other things because you don’t need to focus on every step necessary to tie your shoe. The downside to System 1 thinking is that you may tend to use it when System 2 thinking is more appropriate. For example, a business owner might base future marketing plans on what consumers bought last year without looking to see if consumers’ buying choices have changed.
The way out of this problem is awareness and practice. By becoming aware of these instinctual missteps, readers can begin practicing the opposite. Instead of defaulting to outdated routines and beliefs, they can step more and more into System 2 thinking. In the process, readers can develop instincts that can catch mental biases and stumbling blocks before it’s too late.
Author Adam Hansen is an experienced product management professional who currently serves as the Principal and Vice President of Ideas to Go, a business that helps companies with idea generation, consumer research and marketing.
Co-author Edward S. Harrington also works at Ideas to Go as the Chairman and Principal. Harrington is also an established expert in product management and marketing, working with companies such as Proctor & Gamble.
Co-author Beth Storz serves as the President of Ideas to Go. Like Adam Hansen and Edward Harrington, Storz is a seasoned expert in product management and marketing.
Many books on innovation focus on the various ways businesses can use technology and talent to achieve innovation. These books ignore or gloss over the psychological aspects of innovation. In order to innovate differently, you have to think differently. As Outsmart Your Instincts uniquely points out, innovation isn’t sustainable if you don’t have the right thinking process. This book helps readers understand how to disrupt their thinking patterns so they can ultimately achieve sustainable innovation rather than a hit or miss approach.
Outsmart Your Instincts does an excellent job of helping readers connect thinking patterns to innovation. For its purpose (helping current leaders develop innovative thinking), the book does extremely well. But the topic of reassessing the “rational leader” is really the tip of the iceberg. The book’s lessons can be applied to every part of business including human resources, marketing and leadership. More information on how the book’s recommendations could be applied to other specific, rather than general, parts of the business could be helpful for readers who want to apply the book’s knowledge to other areas.
Outsmart Your Instincts is recommended for every business leader in every industry. All could be susceptible to the errors discussed in the book and could benefit from the simple strategies the book offers for working through them. The key insight in this book is that it helps leaders reexamine areas most fail to consider. As a result, this kind of “disruptive thinking” helps readers view problems and processes in a new way, which is exactly what innovation-hungry companies must do.