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Jeff Bezos On How To Change Your Mind/ Anthony Wing Kosner

Publikováno 08.12.2016 v 20:34 v kategorii TRENDY, přečteno: 78x

Bezos’ iconic laugh Jeff Bezos’ Jason Fried, the co-founder and President of enlightened groupware maker 37 signals, just posted a wonderful anecdote from an office visit yesterday by Jeff Bezos. After a discussion of product strategy, Fried asked Bezos to answer questions from the 37signals staff. During one response he gave a very useful piece of advice.

Bezos "said people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds." One one level, this seems like a facile answer. How better to always be right than to change your mind as you go along? But Fried makes it clear that Bezos meant this in a much more profound sense.

Politicians are berated for changing their minds, and it is taken as a sign of insincerity. Certainly the reference to Mitt Romney and the Etch-a-Sketch has not helped this perception. But "being right" is not a binary thing, and changing ones mind is not flipping a switch.

If you think about your mind as a flow system, like weather or ocean currents, it's easier to see what Bezos is suggeting. Your interactions with information and other people literally change (the shape of) your mind.

"He doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait," Fried explains of Bezos. "It’s perfectly healthy—encouraged, even—to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.… the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.… This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a well formed point of view, but it means you should consider your point of view as temporary."

"What trait signified someone who was wrong a lot of the time," Fried wondered? "Someone obsessed with details that only support one point of view," Fried explained of Bezos' approach. "If someone can’t climb out of the details, and see the bigger picture from multiple angles, they’re often wrong most of the time."

Again, the flow model is helpful. People who are often right have a "convivial" relationship not only with other people, but with their own minds. They can afford to be open to new ideas because they are not afraid or threatened by new things, they revel in them. They let currents of new information change (the shape of) their minds.

But, let's say, you don't want (the shape of) your mind changed. Not only do you have to take control of the binary decisions (booleans in programming terms), but you have to limit the flows of information into your brain. People who do not manage convivially not only need to micro-manage decision making, but they have to be very specific about who they are willing to work with. It is not just that they do not want their authority challenged, it is that they cannot afford to have their minds changed by someone else's input.

So when you see a very rigid, hierarchical organization, it is often the artifact of institutionalized thinking that has to limit the input "from below," to control the process of change. This is why startup tech companies are often quite "flat" in terms of management and also why they are difficult to scale. Bezos is a prime example of a leader who has mastered both startup and scaling, and the flexibility of his thinking, as encapsulated here, could be a key reason for his and Amazon's success.

Not everybody agrees with this notion of flat hierarchy and the changeability of leaders' minds. It's not just new-school vs old-school, but actually how people's brains are wired and how businesses are organized. Do you think Bezos has it "right a lot," or "wrong a lot"? You can tell I have an opinion here, but hey, I could change my mind.



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