Question: According to the latest research, IQ accounts for what portion of career success?
a. 50 to 60 percent
b. 25 to 49 percent
c. 23 to 34 percent
d. 11 to 22 percent
The answer is between 4 and 10 percent. In other words, it is “none of the above.” This question comes compliments of Dan Pink who used it in his best-selling book, A Whole New Mind, to suggest that confining oneself to the answers presented is “a symptom of excessive left-directed thinking.”
In order to unlearn, though, it is not enough to train yourself to use right-directed thinking – although this is helpful. A person or an organization must also intentionally mix-up his or her thinking in order to get a clearer picture of reality.
For example, did you know that if a person scores low on an IQ test they are likely to spend more time reading articles which refute the validity of the test. The reason is because once an outcome has been determined and the experience can no longer be changed, people look for ways to change their view of the experience.
The same is true with the stocks we buy; the cars we purchase; and the schools we send our children to. In each case, after the fact, people are more interested in finding information that confirms – rather than refutes – their decision. This process might make them feel better but it isn’t likely to lead to better decisions in the future.
What then is a person to do? One strategy is to mix-up your thinking. Specifically, look for information that contradicts your interpretation of the situation; consider the situation from multiple viewpoints; or actively solicit input from people with a different perspective.
Google and Proctor & Gamble are a good example. In 2008, the companies swapped two dozen key employees. For its part, Google was interested in winning over a larger portion of P&G’s $9 billion annual advertising budget; while P&G was concerned only a small fraction of its advertisement budget was being spent online.
The intentional mixing of the two cultures allowed each company the opportunity to see their business — as well as future opportunities — in a clearer light by having key assumptions challenged.
P&G, for example, wasn’t inviting influential bloggers to attend press conferences for the roll-out of new products; and Google didn’t fully appreciate how important colors were to building brand image.
Mixing up your mind need not always involve others. Sometimes it can be as simple as changing your mind-set. In an influential study, Ellen Langer studied 84 women who cleaned hotel rooms. One group of women heard a brief presentation which explained how their work qualified as good exercise. The other group did not. The two groups then continued on with their regular work routine but the group that heard the presentation displayed more weight loss and experienced larger blood pressure declines. In short, they became healthier by virtue of nothing more than a change of perspective. A related study using retired male executives yielded similar results.
Langer’s studies and the Google-P&G employee swaps are tangible reminders that if you are really serious about seeking new insights and achieving better results you don’t need a high IQ, all you need to do is “mix up your mind.”