Types of Intelligence and Challenge Approaches

I’ve recently documented the different types of thinking that exists. I just kind of came up with a list through observation. I had scientific intelligence (deductive and inductive reasoning), social intelligence, and creative intelligence. As I read the NY Times online this past weekend I read a great piece by Janet Rae-Dupree called Can You Become a Creature of New Habits? The writing is good on several levels – from talking about cognitive tools for staving off Alzheimer’s to a Japanese technique called kaizen.

According to the article, researchers in the 1960s discovered four methods that humans use to solve challenges. They are: analytically, procedurally, relationally (collaboratively), and innovatively. So if you pair these with my types of intelligence you start to get a complex individual. But as the author points out, the need for analytical and procedure approaches to problem solving is rewarded in our test taking criteria. The other two are neglected to the point of wither. But not everyone is the same and learning is different depending on your strengths.

Here are a few excerpts from the writing:

So it seems antithetical to talk about habits in the same context as creativity and innovation. But brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously develop new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths, and even entirely new brain cells, that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks.

The current emphasis on standardized testing highlights analysis and procedure, meaning that few of us inherently use our innovative and collaborative modes of thought. “This breaks the major rule in the American belief system — that anyone can do anything,” explains M. J. Ryan, author of the 2006 book “This Year I Will…” and Ms. Markova’s business partner. “That’s a lie that we have perpetuated, and it fosters mediocrity. Knowing what you’re good at and doing even more of it creates excellence.”

“Whenever we initiate change, even a positive one, we activate fear in our emotional brain,” Ms. Ryan notes in her book. “If the fear is big enough, the fight-or-flight response will go off and we’ll run from what we’re trying to do. The small steps in kaizen don’t set off fight or flight, but rather keep us in the thinking brain, where we have access to our creativity and playfulness.”

Simultaneously, take a look at how colleagues approach challenges, Ms. Markova suggests. We tend to believe that those who think the way we do are smarter than those who don’t. That can be fatal in business, particularly for executives who surround themselves with like-thinkers. If seniority and promotion are based on similarity to those at the top, chances are strong that the company lacks intellectual diversity.


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