Why Hire Independent Thinkers?

March 22, 2016 3 mins read
Why Hire Independent Thinkers?

Before writing this article, I met some challenges at work, and even to this day, I am still constantly examining my ability to think independently. I need it so much that I even have to make some changes.

Unlike Larry Page, CEO of Google, I never thought about my future when I was young. However, as I grow older, I start to picture things that I want to do. I feel that every option will give me great autonomy – the freedom to think, based on basic principles and the real world, instead of accepting some so-called "popular wisdom".

Many people, including me, are occasionally unwilling to think independently or to develop such ability. There are several reasons for this reluctance, like loss of interest in work, laziness, regarding work as hard labor, grudge against a boss and the muddling-through attitude and so on. It is likely that, before we realise these issues, we have already lost competitiveness, no matter what industry we are in.

Larry Page once said that it is extremely difficult to keep an entire team highly motivated. The education most people receive is not "moon landing" thinking. They tend to believe that things are impossible, instead of thinking and calculating what is really possible based on the real world. That’s why he invested a lot of energy in finding independent thinkers for Google and setting ambitious targets. The right people with a large enough dream are what you need to achieve your goals. Even if you fail, you can still learn something valuable.

Larry Page invested a lot of energy in finding independent thinkers for Google and setting ambitious targets. The right people with a large enough dream are what you need to achieve your goals.

I believe that this idea can be applied to any industry, such as science and technology. Many companies keep doing the same things, and only make some gradual changes; therefore, they are in a comfort zone. Such gradualism will result in some minor issues over time, since changes are revolutionary rather than evolutionary. Therefore, you have to make a big bet on the future. That’s why some people invest in businesses considered wildly speculation by many, such as automatic driving or a balloon-powered website.

Thus, the ability of independent thinking is very important to everyone. However, how can we develop such an ability? Read books and continue to educate yourself to increase your thinking exposure, learn to question anything you believe is incorrect and probe further, do your own research before drawing conclusions, try to think from different perspectives and ask yourself first before asking others. Form your own opinion even if it differs from what the crowd is thinking.

Marlon Mai's picture
Marlon Mai
Managing Director, Greater China
mmai@morganmckinley.com