Steve Johansen, chief information officer, Port of Napier, explains why you should read Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds by Howard Gardner (Harvard Business School Press, March 2004). "Every one of us, not only in our roles as IT leaders, but as valued members of society, occasionally find it necessary to try and talk colleagues, customers, friends and family around to our point of view. And it's not easy. So, how does a leader change the mind of employees, customers or other stakeholders? Or, more importantly, how does a leader change his or her own mind?
I found many of the answers to these questions in this book by Howard Gardner. Gardner, a psychologist from Harvard, discusses how minds change, how intelligence works and what factors influence people's thinking.
This easy to read book explains what happens when we change our own minds. It also focuses on what it takes to influence another person to change their mind and what it takes for them to begin to act on the basis of their newly-formed opinion.
While Gardner provides the reader with a comprehensive analysis of how people change their minds in everyday situations, I believe what makes this book relevant and valuable to those of us in the technology field is how Gardner supplies the necessary skills involved in encouraging us to change our own minds to prevent ourselves from being resistant to change.
This book will change your mind
And, as you know, encouraging other people to be receptive to change is an important skill to have when we work within the ever-changing technology environment. So, making sure we're receptive to change is the first step in ensuring that we can encourage others to do the same.
By illustrating his points with case studies from history, politics, business, science, the arts and everyday life, Gardner exposes a framework involving seven key techniques that can greatly improve our success in changing minds.
If you are anything like me, and have found that most academic authors appear to find it impossible to write intelligent books in plain English that grab your interest and hold your attention, then this book will change your mind.
I found it highly absorbing and a pleasure to read. What is even more satisfying was how easy it is to put Gardner's theories into practice. After reading this book, you too may even change your own mind about the persuasive approaches you use everyday.
This is one of the many gems of wisdom scattered throughout his book that certainly changed my line of thinking: "...Unless we understand how and why to change our own minds, it is possible, but unlikely, that we will be able to change anyone else's."
Maybe Gandhi was right when he said: "Be the change that you want to see in the world."
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