Mastermind Skills: Put Some Emotion Into Your Decision Making

The value of belonging to a Mastermind group is in the power of the group to generate ideas and help their members make novel decisions. Novice members often inadvertently close down the group and individual's thinking in their eagerness to help ...

They listen carefully to what others are saying when they explain their challenge or ideas and then undermine all that good work by leaping straight to offering solutions.

"Not surprising really!"

Most Mastermind members are managers who spend their whole day problem solving or generating new strategies. Even when asked to delay problem-solving and ask open questions for clarification or challenge, a good many of them still wrap up a favoured solution in a question.

"Have you thought of doing X? It's worked for me in the past!" An archetypal closed question which can elicit a straight forward yes or no answer which does not lend itself to further discussion.

Or worse still, "What do you think about trying out X?" It appears to pass the open question criteria of being one of the known W questions (Why, When. Where. What, Who and How). Any discussion that does follow is limited to exploring the pros and cons of this one alternative to whatever is happening now. If, in agreement, they can both stay comfortably in the known territory; if not then an impasse is inevitable. Well, let's move on shall we?

Now, how would you feel if, when asking the group's opinion, they were not given an option which allowed them to default to delivering their favourite solution? What if they were asked to sit back for a moment and reflect on what you had just told them and think about how it made them feel? And then feed that back to you.

"Overall, I felt sympathetic about your plight, I've been in similar situations myself and know how frustrating it can be. However, I also felt disappointed when you said there were no alternatives as you appear to have given up. I'm unclear on what you want from us?" Or simply, "Why is this important to you?" (not traditionally thought of as an emotion, things that are important to you will stir your emotions).

Now, in the novice example, the intellectual part of your brain was engaged. This work part of your brain is excellent at applying what you already know to a novel situation, but does not on its own create a novel response. So, you get more of what you already know.

Now, engage the emotional part of your brain. 95% of your cognition happens in your emotional brain, so you've now engaged that in a continuous feedback loop exploring not just how to get the job done, but who to trust to help you. Whose new ideas are you open to? It's a vital survival strategy in early man out on the savannah and equally vital for survival in the boardroom today.

The mastermind group and accompanying facilitation give some surety on who you can trust. This, in turn, allows you all to explore your full range of solutions and to have open minds which allow synergies of those ideas to come together and challenge together to make the impossible possible.

"So, it's not that emotion replaces cognition, but when seeking riskier novel solutions it needs to be engaged first!"

Hence the lovely quote which was my new find this week. It comes from Reginald Revans, who developed the action learning methods used by many Mastermind facilitators.

It's simply this: "Warmth Before Light".

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