humility is the new smart

In Humility is the New Smart, the authors put forth a new mental model and management framework, based on extensive research on what the ‘smart machine age’ (SMA) will look like.

“We believe that to truly excel at the higher level thinking and emotional engagement underlying the SMA Skills requires us to engage in four key behaviors: Quieting Ego; Managing Self (one’s thinking and emotions); Reflective Listening; and Otherness (emotionally connecting and relating to others).”

The book explores each of these four skills in depth and provides exercises and questions for reflection. In addition to the four skills are five principles of what the authors call the ‘New Smart’. The second principle is core to my own work: “My mental models are not reality—they are only my generalized stories of how my world works.”

In spite of the somewhat cheesy title and the new buzzwords, this book is a worthwhile read. It is especially good for anyone who has recently been given positional leadership in an organization. I would hope that for more seasoned managers and executives, at least some of the recommendations in the book would already be part of their practice.

The book closes with a section on The New Smart Organization. The authors predict that the new world of work will be a combination of “smart robots, smart thinking machines, and humans”.

“Humans will be needed to do the four SMA Skills: higher-order critical thinking, innovative thinking, creativity, and high emotional engagement with other people. Leaders and managers will be needed to create the right conditions that enable the highest levels of human performance and orchestrate the connectivity and integration of technology and humans in order to create value in constantly evolving environments.”

This reflects my own principle of network management.

Finally, the book suggests that organizations of the future will need to be based on three psychological concepts.

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