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From Visual to Spatial Thinkers: Navigating and Leveraging Diversity of Thought in the Workplace



As an experienced HR and change management consultant, I believe that it is crucial for companies to recognize and value different kinds of thinking in the workplace. This includes visual thinkers, who often get left behind in our verbally dominant culture. It's time to apply diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to different kinds of minds in order to increase creativity, problem-solving, and create more cohesive workplaces.


Different Kinds of Thinkers in the Workplace: Visual and Spatial Thinkers


Visual thinkers and spatial thinkers are two kinds of thinkers that can bring valuable skills and perspectives to the workplace.


Visual thinkers are people who process information differently by using hands-on problem solving and visual perception. They often think in images, rather than words or numbers, and are able to visualize the end product of a project in their minds before beginning the work. Visual thinking is often associated with object visualizers who tend to be good at design, mechanical engineering, animal handling, and other hands-on jobs.


Spatial thinkers, on the other hand, tend to think in patterns and abstractions. They are skilled in mathematics, computer programming, and music, and often have a strong sense of spatial relationships, shapes, and forms. Spatial thinking is often associated with spatial visualizers who use their skills to think in patterns and abstraction.


Both kinds of thinkers can be a great asset to any organization, and we need to recognize that highly specialized work calls for highly specialized minds. When different kinds of thinkers get together and recognize the value of their different approaches, great progress can be made. Ultimately, by recognizing and embracing different kinds of thinking, businesses can increase creativity, ignite problem-solving, and create more cohesive workplaces.


How to Harness Different Kinds of Thinking


To harness different kinds of thinking, business leaders and policy makers need to take several actions. First, they need to encourage schools to address the fact that visual thinkers who cannot sit still or cannot do abstract math, such as algebra, are screened out of the U.S. educational system. This requires nurturing and investing in students with hands-on classes, mentoring, internships, and apprenticeships in fields where visual skills are essential.


Second, hiring practices need to change to accommodate different kinds of thinkers. Traditional interviews may not accurately assess a potential employee's abilities. For visual thinkers, portfolios and visual presentations of their work may be a more effective way to showcase their skills. Companies should also recognize that accommodations are not special favors and that all workers, visual and verbal alike, perform according to their strengths.


Third, it's important for leaders to recognize and value different kinds of thinking in the workplace. This includes visual thinkers, who often get left behind in our verbally dominant culture. Different kinds of thinkers can be a great asset to any organization, and we need to recognize that we need both object visualizers and spatial visualizers. When different kinds of thinkers get together and recognize the value of their different approaches, great progress can be made.


Finally, it's essential to create opportunities for all kinds of thinkers to thrive. This requires understanding that highly specialized work calls for highly specialized minds. We need to invest in programs that train individuals with visual skills in fields where their skills are essential. Companies should also recognize thataccommodations for different kinds of thinkers are not special favors, but rather necessary adjustments to help all workers perform their best. By recognizing and embracing different kinds of thinking, businesses can increase creativity, ignite problem-solving, and create more cohesive workplaces.


Conclusion


Ultimately, the business world needs all kinds of thinkers, and when they work in teams with complementary skills, they can be very effective. As HR and change management practitioners, we need to recognize the value of different approaches and create opportunities for all kinds of thinkers to thrive. It's time to make our workforce more inclusive by embracing different kinds of thinking.

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