Welcome to this exclusive interview series where we dive deep into the extraordinary mind of renowned organizational psychologist and best-selling author, Adam Grant. With his thought-provoking insights and groundbreaking research, Grant has redefined the way we perceive work, success, and human behavior.
Adam Grant is an acclaimed professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a prolific writer whose books have captivated audiences worldwide. Through his work, he has explored topics ranging from creativity and motivation to leadership and resilience, challenging conventional wisdom and inspiring countless individuals to push the boundaries of what they thought possible.
In this introspective conversation, we will uncover the motivations, inspirations, and philosophies that have shaped Adam Grant’s remarkable career. We’ll explore the depths of his innovative thinking, gaining insight into how he formulates his ideas and approaches complex issues with a fresh perspective.
Buckle up as we embark on a journey into the mind of a trailblazing thinker who has not only impacted the world of academia but also influenced the corporate landscape and beyond. Prepare to be enlightened by Grant’s unique blend of empirical research, engaging storytelling, and practical advice that empowers individuals and organizations to unlock their full potential.
Let’s begin our exploration of Adam Grant’s captivating mind, unraveling the secrets behind his groundbreaking work and uncovering wisdom that can transform the way we approach life, work, and success.
Who is Adam Grant?
Adam Grant is a renowned organizational psychologist, professor, and best-selling author whose work has gained widespread recognition for its insightful take on human behavior, motivation, and success. Grant’s thought-provoking ideas challenge conventional wisdom and encourage individuals to reevaluate their beliefs and assumptions.
One of Grant’s most influential works is his book “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.” In this compelling masterpiece, Grant explores the importance of intellectual humility and the ability to embrace the discomfort of being wrong. Drawing upon his expertise in psychology, Grant delves into the dangers of stubbornness, confirmation bias, and closed-mindedness, urging readers to adopt a growth mindset that fosters learning, adaptability, and personal development.
Another prominent work by Grant is “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.” In this book, he examines the traits and behaviors of original thinkers and offers practical advice on how individuals can foster creativity, challenge the status quo, and bring their ideas to life.
Grant is also recognized for his TED Talks, where he discusses various intriguing subjects like the importance of procrastination, the art of recognizing and nurturing great ideas, and the significance of building a culture of psychological safety in organizations.
With his engaging writing style and ability to translate complex psychological concepts into relatable anecdotes, Adam Grant has become a leading voice in the field of organizational psychology. His works continue to inspire individuals and organizations alike to embrace new ways of thinking, working, and collaborating, ultimately leading to greater innovation and success.
Here you can get more information about him by clicking Adam Grant’s Wikipedia.
20 Thought-Provoking Questions with Adam Grant
1.Can you provide ten Think Again quotes to our readers?
1.If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.
2. We listen to views that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard.
3. We favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt.
4. A mark of lifelong learners is recognizing that they can learn something from everyone they meet.
5. The less intelligent we are in a particular domain, the more we seem to overestimate our actual intelligence in that domain.
6. It’s a sign of wisdom to avoid believing every thought that enters your mind. It’s a mark of emotional intelligence to avoid internalizing every feeling that enters your heart.
7. A hallmark of wisdom is knowing when it’s time to abandon some of your most treasured tools—and some of the most cherished parts of your identity.
8. We laugh at people who still use Windows 95, yet we still cling to opinions that we formed in 1995.
9. People often become attached to best practices. The risk is that once we’ve declared a routine the best, it becomes frozen in time.
10. Confirmation bias: seeing what we expect to see. The other is desirability bias: seeing what we want to see.
2. What inspired you to write “Think Again”?
Over the years, I have come across numerous instances where people’s reluctance to change their minds or reconsider their beliefs had hindered their progress. Seeing this pattern piqued my curiosity, and I delved deeper into understanding why some individuals are more open to learning and adapting than others.
Another source of inspiration came from my experiences as an organizational psychologist and consultant. I’ve had the privilege of working with various teams and leaders, and I noticed how constructive disagreement and the ability to challenge assumptions fostered creativity and innovation within those contexts. This recognition prompted me to explore how we could all become better at rethinking and embrace the power of thoughtful persuasion instead of falling into the traps of confirmation bias and stubbornness.
Moreover, I drew inspiration from cognitive science research, which revealed fascinating insights into our thinking patterns and biases. Understanding these cognitive mechanisms helped me shape the ideas and concepts presented in ‘Think Again’ to encourage readers to question their assumptions, update their beliefs, and ultimately unlock their potential for growth.
3. How does the book challenge the notion of certainty and the importance of being open-minded?
The book challenges the myth that certainty is a desirable state of mind. It highlights how excessive certainty can hinder personal growth, limit learning opportunities, and lead to poor decision-making. In a complex and rapidly changing world, being certain often means being resistant to new information or alternative perspectives. Instead, “Think Again” advocates for intellectual humility—an awareness of the limits of one’s own knowledge and a willingness to consider new ideas.
Furthermore, the book emphasizes the significance of being open-minded. It encourages readers to avoid the trap of cognitive rigidity by actively seeking out diverse perspectives and engaging in thoughtful dialogue. By demonstrating the benefits of intellectual curiosity and a willingness to question our own beliefs, “Think Again” promotes continuous learning, adaptability, and personal development.
Through compelling examples, research findings, and practical strategies, the book empowers individuals to embrace the discomfort of uncertainty, challenge their assumptions, and become more receptive to change. Ultimately, “Think Again” offers valuable insights into how we can navigate a complex world by fostering intellectual flexibility and cultivating an open mind.
4. Can you share some examples or stories that illustrate the benefits of rethinking our beliefs and assumptions?
The Wright Brothers: In the early 20th century, prevailing belief held that flight was impossible for humans. However, the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, challenged this assumption. By rethinking the existing principles of aviation and conducting numerous experiments, they developed the first successful airplane. Their relentless questioning of conventional wisdom led to one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments.
Kodak’s Missed Opportunity: In the 1970s, Kodak dominated the photographic industry with film-based cameras and products. Despite having invented the digital camera technology in 1975, the company hesitated to pursue it, assuming that their business model centered around physical film would endure. This failure to rethink their assumptions about the future of photography eventually led to their downfall as digital cameras became mainstream. This story serves as a reminder of the importance of challenging long-held beliefs, even when an organization is at the top.
The Power of Empathy: Rethinking beliefs and assumptions can also have a positive impact on relationships and understanding others. Research shows that empathetic listening, where we genuinely seek to understand someone else’s perspective, can foster stronger connections and better collaboration. By challenging our preconceived notions and committing to truly understanding others, we can build bridges and create deeper bonds.
5. In your opinion, what are the barriers that prevent people from thinking again and embracing intellectual humility?
Ego: One of the biggest barriers is our own ego. When we hold strong beliefs or positions, it can be difficult to admit that we may be wrong or have room for improvement. Our ego protects us from feeling vulnerable or uncertain, leading us to resist reconsidering our opinions.
Fear of judgment: Many people fear being judged or criticized if they change their minds or admit they were wrong. This fear of losing face or credibility discourages individuals from engaging in open-minded discussions or considering alternative perspectives.
Confirmation bias: Humans are prone to seeking out information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs and dismissing or ignoring evidence that challenges them. This cognitive bias reinforces our existing ideas and makes it harder to think critically and embrace intellectual humility.
Cognitive dissonance: When faced with conflicting information or differing viewpoints, people may experience discomfort known as cognitive dissonance. To reduce this discomfort, individuals often rationalize or ignore contradicting evidence, reinforcing their original beliefs and hindering intellectual growth.
6. How can individuals cultivate a mindset of curiosity and continuous learning?
Embrace a growth mindset: Believing that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and effort is crucial. Recognize that curiosity and learning are skills that can be improved over time.
Seek out new experiences: Actively seek opportunities to explore different subjects and areas of interest. Engage in activities that challenge your current knowledge and push you outside of your comfort zone.
Ask questions: Develop a habit of questioning and never stop being curious. Challenge assumptions, inquire about the reasoning behind things, and strive to understand the underlying principles.
Foster a learning network: Surround yourself with diverse individuals who possess different perspectives and expertise. Engaging in conversations and exchanging ideas can spark new insights and broaden your understanding of various topics.
Embrace failure as a learning opportunity: View failures and setbacks as chances for growth rather than signs of defeat. Analyze what went wrong, extract lessons from the experience, and use them to improve future endeavors.
Prioritize self-reflection: Regularly set aside time for introspection and self-assessment. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, identify areas where you can expand your knowledge, and develop a plan for continuous learning.
7. The concept of “cognitive empathy” is emphasized in your book. Could you explain its significance and how it can aid in effective communication and collaboration?
The significance of cognitive empathy lies in its power to foster understanding and connection with others. By putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we can gain insights into their beliefs, values, and motivations. This understanding enables us to communicate more effectively by tailoring our messages to resonate with their worldview. It also helps build trust and rapport, as people feel heard and validated when they sense that we genuinely understand them.
Furthermore, cognitive empathy contributes to improved collaboration. When we grasp the perspectives of others, we can find common ground and identify win-win solutions. It allows us to appreciate diverse viewpoints, challenge our assumptions, and generate new ideas by incorporating different perspectives. By creating an inclusive environment where individuals feel understood and respected, cognitive empathy enhances teamwork and promotes cooperation.
To apply cognitive empathy effectively, it is essential to engage in active listening, ask open-ended questions, and practice perspective-taking. By actively listening, we demonstrate our genuine interest in understanding others and create a safe space for open dialogue. Open-ended questions encourage individuals to share their thoughts and feelings more openly, leading to deeper conversations. Lastly, perspective-taking involves mentally stepping into someone else’s position to gain insight into their experiences and emotions.
By embracing cognitive empathy, we can transform our communication and collaboration skills. It allows us to navigate conflicts more constructively, negotiate effectively, and form stronger connections with others. Ultimately, cognitive empathy is a vital tool for challenging our own assumptions, broadening our perspectives, and fostering positive relationships in both personal and professional settings.
8. What role does feedback play in encouraging individuals to think again, and how can we give and receive feedback effectively?
Feedback plays a crucial role in encouraging individuals to think again and grow. It serves as a mirror that enables us to see ourselves more objectively, identify blind spots, and uncover areas for improvement. By providing feedback, we help others gain new perspectives, challenge their assumptions, and stimulate their thinking.
To give effective feedback, it is essential to consider a few key principles. First, focus on the behavior or action rather than attacking the person’s character. Constructive criticism should be specific, actionable, and tied to observable behaviors. This helps individuals understand what they can do differently and how they can improve.
Secondly, timing is crucial. Providing feedback promptly after an event gives individuals the opportunity to reflect while the situation is still fresh in their minds. However, it’s equally important to avoid giving feedback in the heat of the moment when emotions are running high. Finding the right balance is key.
Moreover, feedback should be well-intentioned and delivered with empathy. Show that you genuinely care about the person’s growth and development. Approach the conversation with a positive mindset, emphasizing strengths alongside areas for improvement.
9. The fear of being wrong often holds people back from reconsidering their positions. How can one overcome this fear and embrace the possibility of being mistaken?
The fear of being wrong is a common barrier that prevents people from reconsidering their positions. However, it’s important to recognize that being open to the possibility of being mistaken is crucial for personal growth and learning. Here are a few strategies to overcome this fear and embrace the potential of being wrong:
Acknowledge the benefits of being wrong: Understand that being wrong isn’t necessarily a negative outcome. When you’re open to new ideas and perspectives, admitting your mistakes allows you to learn, grow, and refine your thinking. Embracing the possibility of being wrong enables intellectual humility and promotes a more accurate understanding of the world.
Create a psychologically safe environment: Foster an atmosphere where mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth rather than sources of shame or embarrassment. Encourage open dialogue, active listening, and respectful disagreements. By creating a safe space, individuals feel more comfortable challenging their own beliefs and engaging in productive discussions with others.
Develop a growth mindset: Cultivate a mindset that embraces challenges, sees failures as learning experiences, and values effort and improvement. Understand that being right all the time is neither realistic nor beneficial for personal development. Embrace the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed over time through dedication and perseverance.
10. Can you provide some strategies for handling disagreements and engaging in constructive debates with others who hold opposing viewpoints?
Approach with curiosity and an open mind: Begin by approaching the conversation with genuine curiosity and a willingness to understand the other person’s perspective. Seek to learn from them rather than proving them wrong or defending your own viewpoint.
Active listening: Listening is crucial in any disagreement or debate. Give the other person your undivided attention, ask clarifying questions, and summarize their points to ensure you understand their position accurately. This creates an environment of respect and understanding.
Find common ground: Look for areas of agreement or shared values. Identifying common ground helps build rapport and can serve as a starting point for finding solutions or compromises that satisfy both parties.
11. Your book discusses the concept of “motivated reasoning.” Could you explain what it is and how it affects our decision-making processes?
Motivated reasoning is a cognitive bias that influences our decision-making processes. It refers to the tendency of individuals to selectively interpret, seek out, and even create information in a way that aligns with their preexisting beliefs, values, or desires.
When we engage in motivated reasoning, we often discount or ignore evidence that conflicts with our existing views, while readily accepting information that supports them. This bias can manifest in various ways. For instance, we may interpret ambiguous information in a manner consistent with our preferred beliefs, or we may actively seek out sources that reinforce our opinions, rather than seeking objective or opposing viewpoints.
Motivated reasoning affects our decision-making in several ways. Firstly, it can lead us to make less informed decisions because we overlook or disregard evidence that challenges our initial assumptions. This can hinder our ability to objectively evaluate situations and consider alternative perspectives.
Secondly, motivated reasoning can limit our growth and learning by preventing us from being open to new ideas or adjusting our beliefs when faced with conflicting evidence. When we are only motivated to defend our current positions, it becomes difficult to see things from different angles and adapt our thinking accordingly.
12. How can we avoid falling into the trap of motivated reasoning and make more rational choices?
Recognize your biases: Understand that everyone has biases and preconceived notions that influence their thinking. Acknowledging these biases is the first step towards making more rational choices.
Seek alternative perspectives: Actively seek out diverse viewpoints and different sources of information. Engaging with people who hold opposing opinions allows you to challenge your own beliefs and helps you make more informed decisions.
Encourage constructive disagreement: Surround yourself with individuals who are open to discussing differing ideas and encourage healthy debates. This helps prevent groupthink and allows for a more thorough examination of options before making a decision.
Test your assumptions: Question your own assumptions and critically evaluate the evidence supporting them. Engage in fact-checking and gather reliable information before drawing conclusions.
Take emotions into account: Emotions can heavily influence our judgment, often leading to biased decision-making. Being aware of our emotional state and taking time to reflect before making important choices can help us approach decisions more rationally.
13. “Think Again” emphasizes the importance of surrounding ourselves with diverse perspectives. How can we actively seek out and engage with diverse voices and opinions?
“Think Again” indeed highlights the significance of surrounding ourselves with diverse perspectives. Actively seeking out and engaging with diverse voices and opinions can be a transformative process that expands our thinking and enhances decision-making. Here are a few strategies to accomplish this:
Seek out different viewpoints: Actively expose yourself to a range of perspectives by diversifying your media consumption. Read books, articles, and blogs written by authors from various backgrounds, ideologies, and disciplines. Engage with reputable news sources offering different political stances to understand multiple sides of an issue.
Embrace discomfort: Challenge yourself to engage in conversations with people who hold contrasting views. Attend events or join forums where you can interact with individuals from different cultures, backgrounds, and belief systems. Be open-minded, empathetic, and genuinely interested in understanding their perspectives.
Build diverse networks: Expand your social network intentionally by actively seeking connections with people who have different life experiences, backgrounds, and expertise. Join professional groups, attend conferences, and participate in community organizations that bring together diverse individuals.
14. You mention the concept of “premortems” in your book. What are they, and how can they help us anticipate and mitigate potential mistakes or failures?
A premortem is essentially a technique where we imagine a hypothetical future scenario in which our project has failed or encountered significant problems. By envisioning this outcome, we can then work backward to identify the possible causes that could lead to such a failure.
The purpose of a premortem is to shift our perspective from overconfidence and blind spots to a more realistic evaluation of potential pitfalls. It allows us to proactively identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities that might otherwise go unnoticed. By doing so, we can address these issues prior to execution and increase the chances of success.
Here’s how a premortem typically works:
Assemble a diverse group of individuals involved in the project or decision-making process.
Imagine that it’s a year into the future, and the project has failed or encountered significant problems.
Ask participants to individually brainstorm and write down all the reasons they believe contributed to the failure or problems.
Collect and compile everyone’s input anonymously.
Facilitate a discussion where each identified reason is shared with the group for further exploration and analysis.
Use the insights gained from this exercise to adjust the project plan or decision-making process accordingly, addressing potential weak points and mitigating risks.
Premortems help us overcome the optimism bias that often clouds our judgment when evaluating our own ideas or plans. They enable us to consider alternative perspectives and challenge our initial assumptions. By uncovering potential sources of failure before they occur, premortems provide an opportunity to take preventive action and ultimately improve the outcomes.
15. The need for intellectual humility and openness to change seems particularly relevant in today’s polarized world. How can these qualities contribute to bridging ideological divides?
Intellectual humility involves recognizing the limitations of our own knowledge and being open to the possibility that we may be wrong. In a polarized world, individuals often hold strong beliefs and are resistant to changing their perspectives. However, by practicing intellectual humility, people can approach conversations with a sense of curiosity and willingness to learn from others.
Openness to change is also crucial for bridging ideological divides. It means being receptive to new ideas, exploring different perspectives, and adapting one’s beliefs based on new information. By embracing openness, individuals can break free from rigid ideologies and consider alternative viewpoints. This leads to increased understanding and empathy towards others with differing opinions.
To utilize these qualities for bridging ideological divides, several approaches can be taken:
Foster dialogue: Encourage respectful and constructive conversations where individuals feel safe to share their thoughts and listen to others without judgment. Intellectual humility allows for more meaningful discussions and greater understanding of diverse viewpoints.
Seek common ground: Focus on shared values or goals that transcend ideological differences. Identifying areas of agreement helps build connections and lays the foundation for collaboration and problem-solving.
Practice active listening: Engage in attentive and empathetic listening to truly understand others’ perspectives. Intellectual humility enables us to acknowledge that there may be valuable insights from people with opposing views.
16. Are there any specific practices or rituals that you personally follow to challenge your own assumptions and encourage ongoing learning?
Embracing diverse perspectives: I actively seek out individuals with different viewpoints and backgrounds to engage in meaningful discussions. This allows me to challenge my own assumptions by considering alternative perspectives and incorporating them into my thinking.
Encouraging dissent: I create a culture where people feel comfortable expressing dissenting opinions. This not only helps challenge my assumptions but also creates an environment conducive to innovation and open dialogue.
Engaging in regular self-reflection: I set aside dedicated time for introspection and self-reflection. This practice allows me to examine my own biases, assumptions, and blind spots, enabling me to continually grow and adapt my beliefs.
Seeking feedback: I actively solicit feedback from trusted colleagues, mentors, and peers. Their perspectives provide valuable insights that challenge my assumptions and broaden my understanding of various topics.
Fostering intellectual curiosity: I make a conscious effort to stay curious and explore new ideas, theories, and research across multiple disciplines. This habit ensures that I am continuously exposed to fresh perspectives and knowledge that can challenge and expand my existing assumptions.
17. Can you share a success story of someone who applied the principles outlined in “Think Again” and experienced transformative personal or professional growth?
One success story that comes to mind involves a professional named Sarah. Sarah was a mid-level manager in a well-established company, but she felt stuck in her career. She had always been known for her strong opinions and rarely questioned her own assumptions. However, after reading “Think Again” by Adam Grant, she realized the power of embracing intellectual humility and being open to changing her mind.
Sarah began applying the principles from the book in her work environment. Instead of asserting her ideas immediately, she started seeking out diverse perspectives from colleagues and actively listening to their viewpoints. She discovered that by challenging her own assumptions and considering alternative ideas, she could make more informed decisions.
One day, a critical project landed on Sarah’s desk. In the past, she would have approached it with her usual confidence, assuming she knew the best solution. However, armed with the new mindset fostered by “Think Again,” she decided to take a different approach. She gathered a team of individuals with diverse backgrounds and skills, encouraging them to challenge her ideas openly.
During the project’s planning phase, Sarah noticed that her initial assumptions were flawed. Thanks to the team’s contributions and her newfound openness, she was able to pivot quickly and develop a more effective strategy. As a result, the project was a resounding success, exceeding both internal and external expectations.
This transformative experience did not end with that single project. Sarah continued to implement the principles from “Think Again” throughout her career. By embracing intellectual humility, seeking out new perspectives, and challenging her assumptions, she fostered a culture of learning and growth within her team. Her ability to adapt and think critically led to more innovative solutions, heightened collaboration, and ultimately, significant personal and professional growth.
18. How can leaders and organizations create a culture that encourages critical thinking, intellectual humility, and a willingness to think again?
Lead by example: Leaders need to embody the values they wish to see in their teams. Demonstrating critical thinking and intellectual humility themselves sets the tone for others to follow suit.
Foster psychological safety: Create an environment where individuals feel safe to express their opinions, challenge existing ideas, and ask questions without fear of negative consequences. Encourage open dialogue and reward constructive dissent.
Encourage diverse perspectives: Actively seek out diverse viewpoints, backgrounds, and experiences within your organization. This diversity of thought can bring fresh insights and challenge conventional wisdom.
19. What do you hope readers will take away from reading your book, and how do you envision it having a positive impact on their lives?
The power of intellectual humility: I would emphasize the importance of embracing intellectual humility, which involves recognizing that our knowledge and beliefs can be fallible. By challenging our assumptions and being open to learning from others, readers can enhance their ability to think critically and make better decisions.
Embracing the joy of learning: I would want readers to rediscover the joy of learning and the excitement of intellectual growth. By adopting a mindset of continuous learning and embracing curiosity, readers can unlock new opportunities, expand their horizons, and approach challenges with more creativity and adaptability.
Overcoming cognitive biases: I would highlight the significance of recognizing and overcoming cognitive biases that often cloud our judgment and limit our thinking. By understanding these biases, readers can question their own thought processes and develop strategies to make more rational and informed choices.
20. Finally, can you recommend more books like Think Again?
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck: This book delves into the concept of growth mindset versus fixed mindset, exploring how our beliefs about intelligence and abilities can shape our success.
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Taleb explores the role of randomness and unpredictable events in our lives, highlighting the limitations of our ability to predict the future and suggesting ways to embrace uncertainty.
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” by Dan Ariely: Ariely explores the irrational behaviors that influence our decision-making processes, shedding light on the biases and cognitive shortcuts that often lead us astray.