Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Design Thinking: 'Pronoia' and Boosting Creativity

"Pronoia' 9pts - Wayne Pau BY CC

Never heard of "Pronoia"? Until a few months ago I thought "Pronoia", was a made-up word (... actually it IS a real world according to Oxford dictionary...). I was listening to a populour TEDTalk and Prof. Adam Grant, author and professor at Wharton School on "Are you a Giver or Taker" said:

"Pronoia is the delusional belief that other people are plotting your well-being. - Prof. Adam Grant"
What is Pronoia? It is the EXACT opposite of "Paranoia". Recently passed away Andrew Grove of Intel lived by the motto: "Only the Paranoid Survive".

Without spoiling the TEDTalk, Prof. Grant argues we need to create cultures that nurture and protects GIVERS. My next points may be biased because I feel I'm Ned Flanders type GIVER on even days and Dr. House type GIVER on odd days (*but* being Canadian I may be most polite Dr. House EVER...).

Yet looking at only the personal, myopic view, I believe choosing to be a GIVER is a big creativity booster. Aside from the organizational/societal benefit of GIVING, I believe the very act of GIVING changes you and unlocks inside each of us a positive creative force.

In my non-scientific, highly biased and myopic opinion (because I have neither the smarts or resources of Economist likes Steven D. Lewitt and Stephen J. Dubner), I believe that GIVERS, or from here on I will call them natural "Helpers" are more creative because:

#1 - Helpers become good Problem Solvers

People come to Helpers with Problems. Helpers exist to solve Problems. The more people you help with, the better you get at it. Good problem solving skills are like muscles which improve and strengthen through usage.

#2 - Helpers become highly Diversified

Helpers additionally are exposed to all kinds of new and interesting opportunities (especially as your reputation grows...). From a pure math point of view, the number of projects/endeavors you can 'help' with is exponentially larger than those that you can do 'on your own'. Keep 'helping' others and in no time, you'll be asked to 'help' on things you likely never imagined you'd work with.

#3 - Helpers become more Empathetic

Contrary to populour belief, Hate is not is the opposite of Empathy, Apathy is. Helpers are more Empathetic by necessity, because to 'help' with a new problem, you have to know a little and understand the situation/problem set. To *actually* be 'helpful', you need to be somewhat proficient and understand the thing you're 'helping' with.

#4 - Helpers learn to be Objective

Helpers, by definition are less vested (ie. the idea wasn't theirs and only join on later) and that Objectiveness often makes them a powerful force. Repeatedly being the external voice of reason helps train Helpers to be more Objective and be less overly attached to their initial ideas and biases.

Past SAP Month-of-Service Shirts - Wayne Pau BY CC

It is my own personal belief that beyond the "Corporate" social responsibility of companies, encouraging individuals to give back is valuable in of itself. It makes me very happy when companies (like my employer SAP) help support programs that allow employees to work in their communities and Help others. It's seriously a win-win scenario.

At the end of the TEDTalk, Prof. Adam Grant finishes with:
"The great thing about a culture of givers is that's not a delusion — it's reality. I want to live in a world where givers succeed, and I hope you will help me create that world. - Prof. Adam Grant"
I'm 100% on board. However I'm hoping I'm already personally succeeding (regardless of what others do) by leveraging the creative benefits of having a Giving Mindset, even if no-one else changes

Hope that helps...


Wayne Pau is (... a GIVER and ...) Development Architect at SAP working on creating a new breed of enterprise Internet of Things products. A graduate of University of Waterloo Systems Design Engineering, Wayne has taken pretty much every job there is in Software/Product Development. Feel free to connect/follow on LinkedIn, Twitter (@Wayne_Pau) or Blogger (http://waynepau.blogspot.ca/).

Note: All views are my own.

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