Written by MO.com Subject Matter Resource Jim Kanir
Okay, let’s start by settling the longstanding debate on a perception conundrum that has baffled mankind since language was invented. Is the glass half full or half empty?
Now before you dig your heels in on either side of this debate, I am going to give you a third perspective: Is the issue really the level of the water, or is it simply that the glass is twice as large as it needs to be?
If we cut the size of the glass and leave the water alone, we end up with an undisputed full glass of water – problem solved! It is through keeping an open mind that we can see the third possible solution and solve one of the greatest paradoxical challenges.
In business we face the same challenge of keeping an open mind every day. We start programs and label the results as “success” or “failure.” Sometimes we should take the third perspective and use the project result as a stepping stone, learning new lessons to reach the actual solution. Most complex business problems have multiple solutions that will work with varying degrees of success. By keeping an open mind to consider and evaluate multiple solutions, we may find an option that goes beyond “ordinary” and delivers “incredible.”
At Billtrust one of our seven core values is open mindedness. We refer to the open mindedness tenet many times over the course of a week as we drive the company forward. We are constantly evaluating our actions because what worked well yesterday may not be what we need tomorrow or even today.
Since coming to Billtrust, I have learned to never accept the status quo and to continually strive for improvement. In a vibrant, fast-paced growth culture like Billtrust, it is our open feedback loop that empowers the team to question “why” we do anything a certain way.
For most of us, open mindedness was a difficult value to get used to in the beginning. Oh sure, it sounds easy, and who doesn’t want to say they have an open mind? We have all heard that minds are like parachutes, and they work best when open. But to truly practice open mindedness means exposing yourself to being questioned, challenged and tested.
When I first joined Billtrust, it was a bit unsettling to be in a meeting and think you had the right answer to a question because “that is how we did it in the past.” No sooner would you throw your prefabricated solution on the table than someone would wonder if you’d reverted to “half full or half empty” thinking and missed another solution while defending your preconceived notions. Open mindedness requires being willing to submit your ideas to critical scrutiny.
Think about it: How many of us want to be wrong in front of our peers or even our boss? Many times, we are guilty of defending our proposed solutions simply to avoid the perception of being wrong. It takes constant, deliberate practice and confidence to really be open.
At Billtrust, having open mindedness as a core value empowers our team to question the status quo. The French literature critic Charles Du Bos sums up the Billtrust core value of open mindedness best: “The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”