Cognitive entrenchment is the tendency to think and act in ways that are deeply entrenched in our cognitive processes. It is the opposite of flexibility and creativity, which is necessary in almost every aspect of life. An organisation that is cognitively entrenched is often unable to break out of its habitual inertia and can have a difficult time seeing things from different perspectives. Cognitive entrenchment can be caused by our environment, mental habits, and even the way we communicate. It can lead to a lack of creativity, missed opportunities, and even a stagnation of growth. It is important to understand how cognitive entrenchment occurs and how to avoid it, so that our people, teams, departments and organisations can become better prepared for the challenges ahead.
Causes of cognitive entrenchment
There are many things that can lead to cognitive entrenchment. One of the most common causes is the environment in which we work. If we are surrounded by negative influences, a culture of working in silos, have a lack of communication, lack of trust and transparency, or are exposed to unhealthy influences, then we are likely to become more entrenched in our ways of thinking. Cognitive entrenchment can also occur when we are told we are paid to do, and not think. Over time, such practises get embedded so deeply in the culture of the organisation that it seems normal to act in such a manner.
Signs of cognitive entrenchment
As cognitive entrenchment becomes more and more deeply embedded in an organisation's psyche, it will become increasingly difficult to overcome. The following are signs of cognitive entrenchment:
Do any of these feel or seem familiar to you?
How to identify and analyse cognitive entrenchment
To identify and analyse cognitive entrenchment, as leaders, we must first become aware of our own thoughts and behaviours. We must notice when we are thinking in certain ways that cause us to stay stuck in old ways of doing things. Once we have become aware of this, we can then challenge it and try to determine the source of the entrenchment. We can also try to think about ways that we can combat this entrenchment so that we can become more flexible in our ways of thinking again. There are multiple strategies that you can use to help combat cognitive entrenchment. This is something the engineering team at Equitus can help you with.
Strategies for avoiding cognitive entrenchment
There are a few key strategies that you can use to avoid cognitive entrenchment. Here is one thing you can try: Remain curious. No matter how knowledgeable and skilled you are, you cannot become complacent. You must always be curious about the world around you and be open to learning new things. Curiosity will help you to stay flexible in your ways of thinking and keep you from falling into a rut. There are many other things you can do, and we at Equitus can tailor these strategies for your specific requirement and environment.
The benefits of avoiding cognitive entrenchment
Cognitive flexibility is essential for creativity and problem solving in the modern business environment, especially in the Manufacturing ecosystem. It allows you to see issues from multiple perspectives and find novel and creative solutions to problems. It also allows you to see opportunities that others may not see, which can be essential to success. The more entrenched you become in your ways of thinking, the easier it will be to miss these opportunities and solutions. In addition to these more obvious benefits, being flexible also allows you to avoid stress and mental exhaustion. It allows you to see problems and issues in new ways, which can help you avoid becoming stressed out or overwhelmed by these issues.
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