Great Strategic Leaders Always Think Twice

**Great article from**

Most people let old ideas influence current decisions. But true strategic thinkers interpret situations from many angles and come up with better solutions. Every time.

Strategic Origami

Uncertainty can be scary – but what is even scarier is how insidious the human mind can be in the face of uncertainty.  To make sense of the continuous stream of data being pelted at us from every direction, our mind creates filters so that we can survive and function.

These filters are so effective that only about five percent of the stimuli trickle through. Your mind has become your worst enemy– it only lets through information that conforms to your current beliefs and expectations.  When faced with new data and important decisions, that can be really bad, deadly even.

Misinterpretation can lead to disaster.

Consider a classic example of misinterpretation at Pearl Harbor in 1941.  The captain of the destroyer USS Ward had just dropped depth charges on an unidentified submarine moving into Pearl Harbor, suspected of spying.  En route to port shortly thereafter, this captain heard muffled explosions and remarked to his commander, “I guess they are blasting the new road from Pearl Harbor to Honolulu.”  Operating from a peacetime frame of mind, the captain mistook the muffled explosions of the first Japanese air raids for road construction.  He failed to link his encounter with a suspect submarine that morning with the explosions he just heard.  His mind was insufficiently prepared to interpret the signals for what they really were all about, the start of the Second World War for the U.S.

Such misinterpretation, due to looking at new data through old lenses, is quite common in business as well. Instead of challenging our assumptions, we search for information that proves our old ideas right. Unfortunately, this confirmation bias further delays us coming to terms with a new reality. Instead, we should constantly test our assumptions and actively look for disconfirming information that would prove our old ideas wrong when they are in fact wrong.

Be a better interpreter.

Vigilant leaders must always be on guard for their evil twin who wants to interpret the world in terms of past realities rather than new ones.  For example, your competitor drops its prices – how do you view this and what what would you do about it?  Your first interpretation might be that this is desperate act to hold market share, a futile race to the bottom that will hurt all. But have you interpreted this situation correctly?  Perhaps you are basing this knee-jerk reaction on old knowledge. Here’s how you can tell:

**To read the rest of the article from the original source, click here.**


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