Lesson 2.3

Injecting Outside Perspectives

Dive into this topic by watching the video, followed by key explanations below:

Key Concepts:

  • When we see the world of problem solving through the lenses of cognitive diversity and cognitive friction, suddenly anyone and anything can be considered part of our “team”

  • Teamwork does not mean “consensus”. Often it makes the most sense to have decisions be made by one person, or a small number of people.

  • But what teamwork does mean is whoever is making decisions must honestly pursue getting as much cognitively diverse input as possible.

  • If you’re trying to be smart about broadening your array of perspectives, you’re going to want to consult a wide array of people.

  • The most useful people to invite into your process is often the following:

    • People with both a lot and very little subject matter experience; naivete often reveals surprising insights (just ask anyone who has kids)

    • People at the top and bottom of the totem pole / waterfall

    • Your intellectual rivals and critics

    • Their intellectual rivals and critics

    • People with different values than you

    • People with extreme perspectives and situations, not just “average” people

  • Frame things as “tell me what I don’t know” or “I want to know if it’s possible that my viewpoint is wrong” or “I haven’t made up my mind yet” (and mean it!)

    • This makes it easier for people to not hold back with you, and easier for you to hear things you wouldn’t normally want to hear.

Practice This: Distinguishing Opinion From Fact

When we survey outside perspectives, we will often get a mix of facts, hypotheses, and opinions. Being able to distinguish between these is a good skill for two reasons:

  1. Identifying what is opinion or hypothesis tells us where we have room for further research or inquiry—finding evidence or backup for the new things we’re hearing helps us understand further.

  2. Being able to distinguish between our own opinions and biases and objective facts can help us to be more open to different ideas as well (and helps us be easier to collaborate with).

To practice distinguishing opinion from fact in everyday statements, try the following exercise, “Computer Says Yes.” This will prep you for the next few exercises about productive debate.