I love this idea.
In my leadership book 'Help! What's the secret to leading engineers?' I talk about avoiding black-and-white thinking. A critic of my book said they don’t think black-and-white thinking is a big deal in the workplace and should probably have been left out of the book. I disagree. Black-and-white thinking is rife in so many technical leadership scenarios I get involved in. Black-and-white thinking is the opposite to the mindset of a Chef.
The skill of a good Chef is to provide a balance of ingredients. Take the most common ingredient - salt. Imagine if you had a binary choice of ‘salt’ or ‘no salt’. Say no, and you get zero salt. Say yes, and you get the whole salt cellar. Does the question reflect the mindset of a chef?
The addition of salt is not a black-and-white choice. I want a pinch of salt and I only want it on my eggs and potatoes, not on my bacon.
I see so many work examples where we ask OR questions, instead of AND. Is training valuable? Yes or no? Is this the right or wrong decision? Is this a good or bad employee? Should I focus on customers or staff? Or should I only focus on reducing expenses to increase profits? These situations do not benefit from black and white alternatives. It is much more helpful to think of our choices as a balance of ingredients. Too little salt and the food is bland. Too much and the delectable taste of the meal is ruined.
Black and white thinking dumbs down the complex richness of leadership and compromises the benefits of working with smart, rational and intuitive human beings.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinion below.