The benefits of a second class mind

The other day I was discussing with a friend the collapse in value of the pound brought about by a prime minister and chancellor who launched a significant, sudden and largely undiscussed budget. “Surely when you introduce a change,” my friend said, “you talk to some people first, trail it a bit and get feedback, and then roll it out over time so you get see how it goes, and adjust.” Not this time, it appears.

I was reminded of a quote I heard earlier the same day about politics being the ideal vocation for someone with a second class mind. I believe it’s true for leaders in regular organisations, too—to have the belief or suspicion that one may have a second class mind.

The budget statement that caused the currency fall, and more, were seemingly driven by ideology as much as anything—a belief in a theory (which is fine) unchecked against practical reality (which is not).

Those of us in less complicated organisations than a government will have had experiences of introducing change. Always the most successful I have seen are those that follow the pattern that my friend set out: talk about it to people, listen carefully to sceptics, adjust, repeat. Then when making the changes watch what actually happens, and continue to adjust accordingly.

There is much to be said for self-belief. But we also need to be humble, recognise that our own mind may not possess all relevant knowledge, suspect it is second class, and seek guidance accordingly.

Photo by scillystuff