A good friend of mine called me some weeks ago to discuss a trip we were planning to a client meeting. During the call he casually mentioned he had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I know many men reading this just had the same visceral reaction I did – a tightening of the groin along with an expression of empathy and support. I can’t speak for women but assume they would have a similar physical and emotional reaction after hearing of a friend’s breast cancer.
My colleague went on to calmly explain that while the disease was diagnosed at an early stage, it was a virulent form and would require surgery within a month or two. He was investigating two extremely highly rated hospitals in order to get a couple of opinions and determine which treatment and hospital was the best for him.
During a subsequent meeting, after the hospital visits, we discussed his perception of each. His research uncovered that both places received top ratings for patient outcomes. He had the highest praise for the physicians and other staff he met at both hospitals. And yet he chose Johns Hopkins, not too far from his home but less conveniently located than the other hospital.
Johns Hopkins landed a $32,000 operation due to their customer service. With all else being more or less equal, customer service was the deciding factor.
My friend explained how their excellent service began when he entered the hospital and was immediately greeted by a friendly lady who rapidly and efficiently gathered his initial information. She then asked him to wait for five minutes while she got the next person he needed to see. In less than three minutes he was talking with the second helpful person. His entire visit moved along like this. No time wasted, rapid transition from person to person, all his questions well answered, all information clearly conveyed including total costs and insurance coverage amounts.
At the other hospital they were pleasant enough but he came away feeling they had no particular special interest in him. He was merely a package working its way through their production line. And he left unsure about the final financial issues.
He left Johns Hopkins feeling that everyone there was totally dedicated to his wellbeing, comfort, and peace of mind. They even offered him a single room with a second bed if his wife wanted to spend the night.
When he finished sharing his experience and his upcoming surgery appointment at Johns Hopkins, he had a smile on his face. There he was, coming to the end of a story about this scary surgery he was about to undergo and he was smiling about it.
By happenstance, the next day I heard a very different kind of story on the radio. It was a horror story of terrible service and after-the-fact billing for patients undergoing surgery at several other hospitals. Various people shared their dismay at how they were treated and disgust and anger at the unexpected financial fight after their release from the hospital. The names of the hospitals were prominently mentioned.
In my friend’s case, two hospitals, completely different ways of providing customer service. His story will be shared widely as will those of the people in the radio story. Which would you rather be known as? The organization that people leave smiling or the one they leave seething with disgust and anger?
The internet is a wonderful thing. That’s lucky for all of us as I’m quite sure it’s here to stay. . But as the internet evolves and becomes ever more pervasive, we’re faced with a completely new way of interacting with our environment. What’s the impact of being surrounded by such an attention grabbing and rapidly moving addictive presence? How will it affect the way you lead and manage?
Every day we hear of some new way the internet is expanding its grasp on and control of…everything. The tech world, and the investment community, are ecstatic. For many others, though, the incomprehensible changes in the way we communicate and interact on a personal level are cause for concern.
Cognition researchers are investigating the effects this is having on our original data management device – our brain. They’ve uncovered that it’s not only the way we interact that is changing, the way we think is also changing.
Being online nurtures fluid intelligence. It’s like living in a never-ending cocktail party; an ever-changing environment of distractions that’s in constant motion and encourages rapid change, quick boredom, surface thought, mental agility and flexibility. And it leads to short attention spans and skimming.
Being offline, in contrast, nurtures crystallizing intelligence. It’s like living in a book club. It’s an environment of focus, slow movement, concentration, and deep thought. And it leads to more complexity, wider context, and deeper understanding.
Fluid intelligence is more about sensation, immediacy, and existing in the moment while crystallizing intelligence is more about thoughtfulness, depth, intentionality, and meaning. Everyone has some of each but the mix varies from one extreme to the other.
How you apportion these mental states makes a difference in how you think, how you act, and the results you achieve. It underlies how you present yourself, how you communicate, and the messages you give. It determines the he environment you require to perform at your best.
The culture of an organization run on fluid intelligence is much different from one run on crystallizing intelligence. A fluid intelligence culture attracts those who function best when in a state of constant movement. People who skim and bounce around rapidly, who process information quickly, decide instantly, juggle multiple ideas simultaneously. People who like a constant state of not knowing what will appear next.
A culture based on crystallizing intelligence attracts those who like a slower pace. People who move from idea to idea after fully contemplating each one, who like uncovering a deeper understanding, and finding the overall context. People who like to know what’s coming next and have time to prepare for its arrival.
Fluid without crystallizing loses depth, detail, context, complexity, density, and permanency. Crystallizing without fluid loses spontaneity, randomness, simplicity, lightness, and speed of response.
While the push these days is towards fluid intelligence, all organizations need a blend of both fluid and crystallizing, a culture and people who embrace the strengths of the online life while balancing it with the strengths of the offline life. The yin of the cocktail party with the yang of the book club.