THINKINGAIRE

THINKINGAIRE Introduction

                      (100 Game-Changing Digital Mindsets to Compete for the Future)


“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” - Norman Vincent Peale


We have moved into the new digital age when information is abundant and where creativity becomes a baseline competence. The race of human against the machine is ongoing. The knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened, and the pace of information technology is so rapid that no one can rest on a static mindset, past accomplishments, or the wishful thought that everything is perfect the way it is. Indeed, the mindset is far more important than talent. Talent can always be developed by those who keep growth in mind. From talent management perspective, are mindful leaders or workers simply found in nature or nurtured? How do human beings think? Where do you draw the line about which aspect of human activity is conscious thought and which is mere reflex? How do you differentiate between well thought-out reflex and simple physiological reflex? Further, what happens when the basic needs are fulfilled? Do we stop thinking? What is the philosophy of mindfulness?


The term digital " THINKINGAIRES" we advocate in this book refers to the talented digital leaders and professionals who continue to create new ideas, to practice thought leadership, and to bring the world both content richness and context intelligence. They are the “IMAGINEERS” who can always come up with the fresh perspectives and think differently; they are the “VISIONEERS” who can digest, analyze and synthesize information and knowledge, to visualize the future clearly; they are the ENTREPRENEURS or INTRAPRENEURS who are creative in thinking about the alternative way to do things, and they are the “CHANGE AGENTS” who can create synergies from people, capability and the digital ecosystem that are greater than the sum of their parts. “THINKINGAIRE” is the guidebook to help digital leaders and professionals understand and cultivate digital thinking mindsets to compete for the future:

  • “Out-of-Box” Thinking Minds: “Out-of-Box” is a shortened form, a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. Out-of -Box thinking implies a certain level of creativity or unconventional problem solving.


  • Systems Minds: Systems Thinking provides the holistic way to view problems, better and more accurate understanding of the overall situation via connecting parts and whole, better defining the problems and how you should go about solving them and in what sequence.


  • Hybrid Minds: Hybrid Thinking is a set of interdisciplinary and integrative thinking processes we will need to solve many of today’s complex problems, which require strategic consideration, systems intelligence, innovative approaches, cross-cultural and cross-generational perspectives, and multi-dimensional cognition.


  • Agile Minds: In a broader scope, "agility" is a philosophy of managing complexity and unpredictability through empiricism. Agility is the ability to adapt to the changes. Agile minds see the world through the lens of three “I”s Interaction, Improvement, and Innovation. Agile is a new, radical style of leadership.


  • Intellectual Minds: Intelligence is the capacity to understand and apply wisdom to the knowledge you are exposed to. There are as many different ways to characterize intelligence as there are different types and forms of information impinging on our senses.


  • High - EQ Minds: Emotional Intelligence in its simplest form is being aware of our emotions and managing them to get best out of the situation. It’s also about trying to understand other emotions and be empathetic.


  • Paradoxical Minds: The paradox is a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities. The paradox is the result of two opposing truths existing side by side, which can be both right. The paradox is also like the two sides of the coin, they are not just opposite, but also complementary, to make it a whole.


  • Progressive Minds: Progress represents change. Without change, one cannot even stagnate; she or he will be on a backward journey. Progress itself is change, whether it comes from individual or group efforts or is induced by environmental and cultural, tangible or intangible forces.


  • Metaphorical Minds: Psychologically, creative, metaphorical and poetic impulses and language congeal over time into systems of thought that take on a quality of being permanently true, through being institutionalized, systematized, and professionalized.


  • Professional Minds: A professional mind goes beyond professions, but we can always learn more about the thought processes from varying professionals as well. It takes a decade to grow a tree, and it takes more than one generation to shape the right mindset.


  • Anti-Digital Mindsets: Digital Transformation requires mind shift. In addition to the set point changing, transformation requires first shifting mindsets, and then building new capabilities & skills, reinforcing and embedding new practices and reflexes.


  • Mind vs. Mind: It’s hard to say when we can make an ‘apple to apple’ comparison of mind vs. mind. The truth is that each of us is a complex blend of contrasts - positive and negative; intuitive and logical with imperfect judgment.


We live in an era where often the mind is lagging far behind the speed of the internet. It must be acknowledged that changing mindsets can be a very long process: it takes both vision and strategy. It occurs only through a dialogical process. It requires a devotion to fairness, correctness, truth, progress and solid respect for fundamental rights. Change happens when mindsets turn into mind flow. You have to start with creating an awareness of the need for mind shift. You must change the belief that causes the thought and creates the emotion. Once the belief has changed, the reaction will automatically change. Many neuroscientists believe the essence of who we are, the memory, the personality, the emotion, the thinking process, and even the consciousness lie in those brain patterns. The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” might give a clue as to what motivates us to think. When the neurons in the brain start clicking and connecting, the thought is created; thoughts piled upon the thought forms inside your mind; and when the mind keeps wondering and growing, it enlarges who we are; our brain is part of our body, but our mind strengthens us as a being. The mind is probably not the brain alone. It may also be a whole-body phenomenon, with inputs from the environment as well. The brain is to mind as the eye is to sight. The brain is the hardware and the mind is the software with the totality constantly in action, hardware plus software. To look for the mind strictly within the brain seems then as silly as looking for the music between the strings of a piano. The mind is much more than an active brain. The brain is like the hands that make the bread; the mind has the knowledge of how to do it. The brain belongs to the body, the mind to the heart. So it’s quite sobering to think that the vast majority of these thoughts we have each day are unplanned and completely random. Everyone can take the time to listen to and create some space to realign what is important to each of us: What do we value? What is our purpose in life? We learn our beliefs and most are learned and ingrained in our minds at a very young age. Some of these beliefs are developed from misinterpretations of what we see, hear and experience. Too often, we operate on autopilot, with our thoughts, emotions, and decisions coming from a subconscious level - accurate or not. Unfortunately, these learned beliefs oftentimes limit our minds, forming our biases, or blind us from seeing the other side of a coin.


The purpose of this book “Thinkingaire” is not to study the brain from a neurologist’s perspective, but to summarize the different thought processes from the digital management viewpoint, to help digital leaders and professionals cross-industry, cross-generation and cross-culture shape the 100 sets of game-changing digital minds to compete for the future.


Chapter 1 “Out of  Box” Thinking Minds: We live now in the “Big Data” digital era: What happens when our brain faces dealing with the overwhelming explosive data? Raw data is the lowest grade of ore. It requires massive filtering, sorting, condensing and refining before it can be put to usage. By peeling back layer after layer, individuals and organizations can discover why they think, feel and operate the way they do. Once they find where a particular belief originated, it’s easier to realize that beliefs can change. By changing their thinking, they change the beliefs and change the emotions leading to different decisions, different outcomes, and become more self-aware and self-improving persons, with the digital mind. Everyone has the ability to change their mindsets. Because every person has degrees of both open and closed mindsets in different contexts. Tied into this is the degree of resistance to change. Knowledge is the key to changing mindsets, biases, prejudices. We are all works in progress; learning, growing and changing.


Chapter 2 Systems Minds: Systems Thinking (ST) provides the more holistic way to view problems. Systems Thinking provides better and more accurate understanding of the overall situation, better defining the problems and how you should go about solving them and in what sequence. Systems Thinking provides a structured process and consideration of the range of options. The application of Systems Thinking in a structured and systematic process allow a more complete and holistic approach to being taken. The main emphasis is in doing "better pre-work" –such as defining the situation and the "success criteria." Taking consideration of a range of options — rather than the more traditional "jump to a solution" problem-solving method. Systems Thinking seeks to observe the organization from outside-in. It encourages the observer to see himself/herself as part of the system. To put it simply, Systems Thinking is to understand the relationship between the parts and the whole: it is an outside-in perspective of  interconnectivity and interdependence in a system.


Chapter 3 Hybrid Minds: The Digital Era is the hybrid era: the physical world is blurring with virtual world; the work life is blurring with personal life, and the hard disciplines such as science and engineering are blurring with soft disciplines such as art and philosophy, etc. And to dig into the mind level, the Hybrid Thinking can combine different thinking patterns in order to analyze and synthesize for effective problem-solving. Hybrid Thinking is a set of interdisciplinary and integrative thinking processes we will need to solve many of today’s complex problems, which require strategic consideration, systems intelligence, innovative approaches, cross-cultural and cross-generational perspectives, and multi-dimensional cognition. In this chapter, we will introduce a variety of types of Hybrid Thinking that can be used in solving complex problems and making tough decisions.


Chapter 4 Agile Minds: Agile is the state of mind. "agility" is a philosophy of managing complexity and unpredictability through empiricism. Agility is the ability to adapt to the changes. Agile minds see the world through the lens of three “I”s Interaction, Improvement, and Innovation. Agile is a new, radical style of leadership. Instead of command-and-control, agile focuses on team collaboration, independence, and autonomy. It's an entirely different mindset for many organizations: trying to 'do agile' instead of 'be agile' will lead to failure. It is crucial for successful adoption of a better way of working that the people in the organization begin to first embrace the values and principles relating to the agile mindset, and then they look at the set of practices which will work for them at the level they are at.


Chapter 5 Intellectual Minds: Intelligence has been defined in several ways. First intelligence is a cognitive process involving rational and abstract thinking. Second, it is goal-directed and purposeful, which means that all intelligent activities are planned to reach a self-determined goal. Finally, it involves social competence, to help individuals adjust to their environmental surroundings. Intelligence is the word we use to describe the potential ability. Intelligence is the capacity to understand and apply wisdom to the knowledge you are exposed to. There are as many different ways to characterize intelligence as there are different types and forms of information impinging on our senses. Our intelligence concerning any given type of information is a function of our capacity to recognize and interpret patterns, and our consequent ability to use the perceived information.


Chapter 6 High- EQ Minds: Emotional Intelligence in its simplest form is being aware of our emotions and managing them to get best out of the situation. It’s also about trying to understand other emotions and be empathetic. EQ becomes more critical for leading in today’s digital dynamic with its characteristics of complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. But how can we dig deeper into a high EQ mindset? Is Emotional Intelligence fundamentally inherent, hardwired? Can it be trained to some extent? Or is it circumstantial? A high EQ mind drives digital thinking to keep you motivated: Emotional Intelligence has tremendous relevance in today's world. High EQ drives a positive mindset and keeps you motivated about life. It allows you to maintain your composure whatever be the situation, whether you are being glorified or vilified. Not reacting too emotionally when he or she receives strong praise, nor gets extremely dejected about anything. It is a hallmark of a leader with supreme EQ.


Chapter 7 Paradoxical Minds: The paradox is a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities. The paradox is the result of two opposing truths existing side by side, which can be both right. The paradox is also like the two sides of the coin, they are not just opposite, but also complementary, to make it a whole. At a silo, perhaps you only see or understand one side, believe it is right, and then assume the other side must be wrong. But if you stand at the right angle to see the both sides, you know even they are different, but both hold part of truth in it. Digital now just like the new window, provides a multidimensional view to see things and the world differently. Therefore, digital is the age of empathy. Acceptance is the key - acceptance of others as they are, without prejudice or destructive criticism, acceptance of self as an indefatigable spirit, acceptance that paradoxes are two sides of the same coin and that complexities are the spice of life.


Chapter 8 Progressive Minds: Most often, progress is not a universal truth, but a relative truth. What happens is that we think that progress is being made, but then we don’t see progress, because your type of progress may not be a progress at all to someone else. Every endeavor has benefited some but not all mankind, which makes the progress that is accomplished relative and not absolute. From the business perspective, the progress made through a silo mind can only benefit the individual function. However, progress at an organizational level ensures the business as a whole is superior to the sum of its pieces. Real societal progress is made through the work of progressive minds, which can sustain a balance of diversified viewpoints, creativity, and discipline; opportunity and risk; individualism and teamwork; democracy and unification; science and art; spirit and reality; intuition and analytics. Through such an ongoing, dynamic balance of viewpoint and disciplines, human progress can be sustained and the world can move forward with solid speed.


Chapter 9 Metaphorical Minds: As Einstein wisely put, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Through communicating problems with words clearly to other minds, and reframing the question with new levels of thinking, the fresh mind with a cognitive difference can perhaps solve the problem seamlessly. Psychologically, creative, metaphorical and poetic impulses and language congeal over time into systems of thought that take on a quality of being permanently true, through being institutionalized, systematized, and professionalized.


Chapter 10 Professional Minds: Generally speaking, a profession is any type of work that needs special training or particular skill, often one that is respected because it involves ​a high level of education. To dig even deeper, there is a set of professional mindsets which get trained and sharpened can uplift digital progress and improve both business and societal maturity. On the other side, the unprofessional mindset has less to do with the profession itself, but more about the lack of wisdom and make a negative influence in the workplace. And it has some common symptoms and out-of-dated thought processes.


Chapter 11 Anti-Digital Mindsets: Digital Transformation requires mind shift. In addition to the set point changing, transformation requires first shifting mindsets, and then building new capabilities & skills, reinforcing and embedding new practices and reflexes. From the perspective of the industrial age, the problem lies with the Taylorism mindset of scientific management, where everything can be controlled. Thus, to bring order into the world of complexity means pushing harder on the process. The problems with those thought processes are “status quo’ type of thinking, authoritarian behavior, and bureaucratic decision-making.


Chapter 12 Mind vs. Mind: People are different, not because we look different, but more crucially, we think differently. The variety of thought makes the world diversified, innovative, and sophisticated. When we use our different perspectives to complement each other’s thinking we can overcome common challenges facing humankind, but when we misunderstand each other, it causes chaos, conflict, and even man-made disaster. The brain is only an organic computer that creates energy or an operating system called the mind. The mind then creates programs we call our thoughts. We can change our thoughts just as we can change applications on a computer. It’s hard to say when we can make an ‘apple to apple’ comparison of mind vs. mind. The truth is that each of us is a complex blend of contrasts - positive and negative; intuitive and logical with imperfect judgment. We all want to believe that our judgment is perfect, yet none of us can claim to be a perfect character. But we can always learn about complementary thinking from other minds.


We live now in the “Big Data” digital era: What happens when our brain faces dealing with the overwhelming explosive data? Raw data is the lowest grade of ore. It requires massive filtering, sorting, condensing and refining before it can be put to usage. By peeling back layer after layer, individuals and organizations can discover why they think, feel and operate the way they do. Once they find where a particular belief originated, it’s easier to realize that beliefs can change. By changing their thinking, they change the beliefs and change the emotions leading to different decisions, different outcomes, and become more self-aware and self-improving persons, with the digital mind. Everyone has the ability to change their mindsets. Because every person has degrees of both open and closed mindsets in different contexts. Tied into this is the degree of resistance to change. Knowledge is the key to changing mindsets, biases, prejudices. We are all works in progress; learning, growing and changing.


Thinkingaire Self Assessment Checklist


Thinkingaires are digital leaders or professionals who have the full set of high-mature digital minds with multidimensional digital intelligence. They can envision further, perceive insightfully, and understand things profoundly via different angles. Their digital minds keep flowing, keep growing, hyperconnected and highly competitive.



Make an objective assessment of your digital mindset maturity: We discuss 100 game-changing digital mindsets in this book. Add one score for each digital mind you have (See the figure xxx on the “Conclusion” part of this book),  and deduct one score for each anti-digital mind listed on the Thinkingaire Chapter 11 figure xxx. Sum them up, to calculate your total Thinkingaire score. If your score is 85 or above, you are high-mature digital leaders or professionals with mind fit. If your score  is below 85, you need to work harder, or more precisely “think harder,” to cultivate a healthy thinking habit, and keep digital fit at the mindset level. If your score is far below 50, perhaps you do need “debug” your mindset, practice digital thinking with a sense of urgency, and make the radical mind shift.


"Thinkingaire" Book Review

For purposes of full disclosure, I should begin by stating that I have just completed editing  "Thinkingaire," for Pearl Zhu. Editing is my strength, not digital business, but what I have found as I went through this manuscript is that Pearl clearly knows her material very well and she has the kind of broad knowledge and original point of view on the digital era that would be invaluable to anyone who needs to shoulder the responsibility of bringing their business fully forward from the industrial era into the digital.
Pearl’s broad knowledge and perspective make her innovative contribution more accessible. Digital business is not exactly what I’m doing, but the insights in her work have broader applications. Her knowledge of the particular management challenges facing all levels of business in the digital era is encyclopedic and the respect that she shows for a holistic perspective on the challenges facing all of our cultures lays bare the kind of overarching impact the activities of humanity have on the natural world, as well as the digital.

Pearl continually brings the focus back to considering each individual’s strengths and how taking care that every member of every team is being challenged to make their own personal contribution will empower the organization as a whole, and that the kind of hierarchical thinking and dedication to specialized silos, focused exclusively on one narrow part of the businesses activities that is so familiar in the industrial workplace cannot answer the challenges of the emerging digital era.

-James H.Dodds


Thinkingaire" Book Chapter 12 Mind vs. Mind Introduction
Thinkingaire" Book Conclusion

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