360-Degree Thinking: Going Deeper into Third Space Thinking

Third Space Thinking promotes the integration of Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity and 360-Degree Thinking into how you view the world. The research done by Dean Wilson and his research team revealed that these are the most valued characteristics in the current and future workplace by top CEOs across the country.

In our Third Space Thinking workshops, we demonstrate a powerful way to solve problems using the first four attributes as lenses to view communication challenges in your life. The exercise creates a comprehensive view of a work or personal situation and ultimately a viable path forward. The follow up use of our app offers a deeper learning of these skills and builds your ability to access these skills with increasing ease. They complement each other very well, but each of them can be developed even further on their own.

At the USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking, we like to say the fifth competency, 360-Degree Thinking, takes a holistic, multi-dimensional and analytical approach to problem solving. By developing this skill, you’re able to convert information into insights and then connect the dots to move into action. I recently saw the process of creating a ritual out of this attribute broken down into three components: hindsight, insight and foresight.

Hindsight is the ability to critically examine your past performance. Here you need to comprehensively understand your life and life circumstances. You can extrapolate past knowledge and experience to improve future decision-making. Hindsight helps you learn from problems, mistakes, failures and successes. Looking back helps you course correct.

Over my career, I’ve consistently used journaling as a tool to assess where I am and where I want to go. I recently added a technique to that process that I learned at a conference at Columbia University. David Peterson, who heads Google’s leadership development program, stresses the importance of introspection in maximizing your effectiveness as a leader — in fact as a human being. His approach includes a daily one-minute check in where you ask yourself: What worked well? What didn’t? What did I learn? What one thing will I do differently tomorrow? What new thing did I do today? He then adds weekly two-minute drills; monthly five-minute exercises and annual look backs to his self-examination recipe.

But you need to avoid using the past as a primary barometer for future decisions. That’s where foresight comes in. Foresight is the ability to predict future trends, read the present patterns and hypothesize on future scenarios. When I was President at Sony Pictures, we held a two-day offsite led by Professor Patricia Riley from USC. Each attendee was provided information in advance about current trends in the market place. We, then, came together with a Third Space mind set and looked at potential outcomes and solutions for those possibilities.

In order to see the patterns, you need to develop insight. You need to make sense of your current surroundings. Pinpointing cause and effect relationships to gain an accurate understanding of things, events and people becomes critical. Insight is where creativity and innovation happen. Developing insight requires being inquisitive and fully present. You can’t pick up patterns in the world if you’re thinking about the past and the future.

Learning the attribute of 360-Degree Thinking alone can be a valuable muscle to develop. But when you start down a path of solving problems through the communication based approach behind Third Space Thinking, a new world opens up. They work seamlessly together. And each one can be explored and perfected on its own. The result? You’ll meet challenges with a well thought through solution and become a more effective executive in the process. Join us in October (https://uscthirdspacebootcamp.eventbrite.com) to start the exploration.