Have You Experienced Einstellung Effect?

You may well have. Sounds painful, Doesn’t it? Well. It could be very painful actually.

According to Wikepedia, “Einstellung refers to a person’s predisposition to solve a given problem in a specific manner even though better or more appropriate methods of solving the problem exist. The Einstellung effect is the negative effect of previous experience when solving new problems.”

Perhaps you have tried to implement a successful sales strategy in another region of the country with poor replication rewards. Just because Johnny responded well to time out in the corner, does not mean that the other children will as well.

Experiments showed conclusively that we often revert to previous familiar patterns and solutions to similar challenges, even when more effective options exist. Perhaps this is where we get sayings like “IF it ain’t broke…”, or “We’ve always done it this way”, or my favorite ‘When in doubt, build it stout with products that you know about”. There is a place for tried and true repetition, but there is also a real risk of getting into a “Neuro-rut”, and being passed by innovators.

Innovation is always challenging to launch. I sold innovative products for my whole career. Innovation is noteworthy, exciting, and can be much more profitable in every sense.

So how do you immunize yourself from the Einstellung effect?

  1. Surround yourself with a variety of new voices. Bounce ideas and challenges off of a variety of people. Encourage “throwing spaghetti at the wall” to see what sticks. Introduce new team members to projects. Attend different forums and topics to see what others are thinking and doing in unrelated fields.
  1. In order to be an asset as a coach, I need to have the insight and courage to challenge my client’s assumptions. As Robert Hargrove says, I need to explode their beliefs when I think that they may be con straining. “How else could we approach this challenge?””How does that old solution apply to this problem?””How well did that really work for you last time?”
  1. As the leader, constantly foster and celebrate a coaching culture of challenging the status quo, affirmation for trying, and celebration for succeeding.
  1. Practice being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Expand your fear/fun threshold. It’s hard work, but worthwhile. We towed our sailboat across North America last year, and sailed it to the Bahamas. We were constantly on the ragged edge of fear/fun. Funny how the fear tolerance threshold increased.
  1. Test you innovative idea for reliability, accuracy, and marketability with your whole range of stakeholders. Your personal and corporate brand is always on the line. As Darren, one of my sharp engineering clients used to say to me: “Ray, bring me leading edge, not bleeding edge”.

Clients want innovation over iteration, and they want you to get it right. That alone should motivate us to always challenge our mindset to prevent the painful effects of Einstellung. Now, Go with GUSTO!

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