Myth #3: Great minds think alike

In keeping with the theme of innovation and my quest to quash myths that hinder it, I wanted to address the last fallacy on my list: ‘Great minds think alike’.

This phrase is sometimes thrown out as a pat on our backs for agreeing with each other. It stems from our inherent need to find consensus, which, mind you, has its own place in our world.

However, this can also nip really constructive disagreements and arguments in the bud. When we feel obligated to agree with the crowd, we’re conforming to a way of thinking that is constrained by our fear of the unknown and a fear of failure.

I’d like to propose a new way of thinking – one that encourages new opinions and deviations from the norm. Let’s agree to disagree! Let’s NOT take YES for an answer! Let’s encourage those people to speak their mind who think differently from us. It’s those people who have the courage to think differently that stand out and make a difference.

I loved Nathalie Udo’s recent post on the New Normal. Look it.. We’ve got a global economy. We’ve got people from varied cultures coming together over common causes. This is a collection of people with different mindsets,  experiences and mental models. I love it!

The permutations to finding solutions to problems are endless, albeit sometimes a bit chaotic. But if you’ll indulge me for a bit and think about the possibilities… it’s mind-boggling. It’s enough for us to wonder if we should re-coin this phrase to say “Great minds think differently from the crowd”.

Yes, ultimately we do want to come to a middle-ground, otherwise we would tear each other’s hair out. But let’s get off our high horses and encourage creative thinking. Let’s cultivate the humility in our workplaces to allow people to disagree, even if that means accepting that someone else’s idea was better than ours. This is what sets us apart from the crowd and keeps us ahead of the game.

Also, let’s reward those in our workplaces who do indeed dare to deviate from the norm, dream the impossible and find ways to achieve it. I’ve seen some companies investing in creativity by setting up events to showcase it and/or actively rewarding it on a periodic basis. This isn’t a new concept. I just wish we saw more of it!

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4 thoughts on “Myth #3: Great minds think alike”

    1. Anuradha Subramanian

      Thx for adding that link to your blog post. You’re spot on! This is how we need to change our thinking. If more and more companies change make a concerted effort in changing their cultire in this manner, we can benefit hugely from the wealth of experience and alternative thinking that folks from globally dispersed teams can bring to the table.

      Also, thx Kimberly for your support. I love the way you’ve twisted this myth a couple of different ways. Let’s change our thinking so we don’t get stuck in a rut.

  1. Geeze, I just love your writing style, Anuradha! So authentic, and I feel like I’m sitting across the table from you sipping a cup of tea as I read. Thanks for another great post!

    A while back I read Wikinomics and became obsessed with the power of mass collaboration, so I’m very interested in the topic of your blog in addition to your writing style. I might slightly twist your message to say great RESULTS emerge from great minds thinking differently. After all, if we all think the same we only need one of us.

    My favorite form of this “myth” was shared with me in this form: “Great minds think alike, and fools seldom differ.” I think that says it all.

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