How to be radically open-minded

When the speed of change on the outside is bigger than the speed of change on the inside, the end is near. In this environment, the most important question for any organization is: “Are we changing as fast as the world around us?” Sadly, for many organizations the answer is no.

Organizations are designed for efficiency and effectiveness, not organizational adaptability and radical change. Management with its standard operating procedures, structures, rules, and control mechanisms brings discipline to operations, but imperils organizational adaptability. Hence, conformity to standards and rules are promoted, whereas creativity and critical thinking are smothered.

As a result, old mental models are not challenged, contrarian points of view are non-existent. People simply do what has been tried and tested. Innovation? Becomes an empty buzzword without action.

In a nonlinear world, only nonlinear ideas will create wealth. That is why organizations need activists who challenge the status quo. We call them REBELS AT WORK. Their goal is to create a movement within their company to raise consciousness and mobilize resources inside the company. They challenge the status quo by refusing to “fit in” and by committing to a cause that is at odds with the pervading practices in their organization.

Broad-Minded and Open to Change

Rebels at Work are not anarchists. They seek to reform rather than to destroy. They are the loyal opposition within the organization. Their loyalty is not to any particular person or office, but to the continued success of the organization. Rebels at Work are intent on protecting the organization from mediocrity and veneration of the past.

As different as these people might be, there are notable characteristics they have in common: They are broad-minded. And open to change. We think “open-minded” is the perfect description. Be radically open-minded!

This is especially important today because openness and willingness to change are key requirements for digital transformation.

Radically Open-Minded – the Polar Opposite of Narrow-Mindedness

So, how open-minded are you? Of course, most people believe they are broad-minded and open to change. But is that really the case? Here are a few tips on how to judge the real situation:

(1) Many people just don’t like their opinion being questioned.
It can happen when you express dissent a little too forcefully or question an opinion a little too loudly. In hierarchical structures in particular, it’s a career killer. However, we need to be aware that critical thinking and productive dissent are extremely important because they play a vital role in combatting office groupthink.

Radically open-minded means:
Productive dissent? Bring it on! After all, it ultimately increases the quality of decision-making and moves organizations away from the danger of groupthink.

(2) In discussions, many people make statements and try to get their point across.
They rarely ask open questions.

Radically open-minded means:
I’m aware that my point of view could be wrong. That’s why I‘m willing to question my own opinions, which in turn requires the ability to self-reflect.

(3) It’s important to be understood. However, many people put less emphasis on making an effort to really understand others.

Radically open-minded means:
to take into consideration the point of view of the various stakeholders in the discussion. This contributes to a broader perspective on what are often very complex issues and increases the quality of decision-making.


What if you’re wrong?

In our experience, these three points provide a useful explanation of the term “radically open-minded”.

The first step:
Anyone who wants to apply this principle should, as a first step, honestly assess how open-minded they are in different areas of life. The three aforementioned tips for self-reflection are suitable for this.

The second step:
Look for other people who are “radically open-minded” and deliberately surround yourself with them. The more such people get together, the greater the influence on the culture of an organization. In a culture like that, dissent is not seen as betrayal of the common cause, but rather as a very important component of learning and driving change forward.

Being radically open-minded means being open to other perspectives, viewpoints, and arguments, but also being decisive, because in the end – once all the different arguments have been put on the table and debated – a decision needs to be made!

Here’s a simple question that is a great therapy for narrow-mindedness:

If two people disagree, it’s likely that one of them is wrong. What if it’s you?