Mind Readings: Collectivist and Individualist Mindsets

  • Different nations and communities have had varying levels of success in fighting COVID due to different mindsets
  • A collectivist mindset is needed to solve a collectivist problem
  • An individualist mindset is needed to solve an individualist problem
  • The Motion Picture Association of America is an example of a collectivist mindset
  • Apple is an example of an individualist mindset

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In today’s episode, let’s talk about two different kinds of mindsets.

When we look at the history of what has been successful in the pandemic, in terms of fighting COVID off different nations different communities have had different levels of success.

Some communities have had a fairly large success at it, and some communities have not.

What’s the difference? Generally speaking, when you look across those places, which have done a really good job, you see more of a balance between collectivist and individualist mindsets than you do in places where an individualist mindset predominates.

So when you look at a scale of, for example, different nations, the United States of America is supremely unusual in the level of individualism as an overall mindset compared to almost every other nation on the planet.

And then there are the polar opposites communities where a collectivist mindset is very rigidly in place.

The People’s Republic of China has an extremely strong collectivist mindset fostered by the the authoritarian government there.

And these two mindsets, and it’s a spectrum, it’s not one or the other.

These two mindsets create different results and are useful for different kinds of problems.

You want an individualist mindset when you are trying to foster things like innovation and entrepreneurship, where someone has that sort of rugged individuality that allows them to defy convention allows them to take greater risks than they normally would.

And sort of just go it alone.

The flipside is you also end up with a lot of people who don’t do all that well, because that individual is mindset taken too far.

Means they don’t do things like ask for help.

You want collectivist mindsets when you have a problem that requires collective action.

Right? So a public health crisis, you want collective action, you want everyone to do their part to solve a problem that affects everyone, and not rely on individual solutions.

The challenge that we’ve seen in countries that didn’t do as well with with the COVID pandemic, is that individualist mindsets? They don’t work against a collectivist problem.

The way a virus works is inherently collectivist, because they’re not really they’re barely alive, they’re not, you know, some scientists don’t even think that they’re alive.

And they’re relatively non discriminatory, they just do their thing and they spread, they do not care about point of view, they don’t care about opinion, they don’t care about belief, they care about nothing, they just do their thing.

And so, by their very nature to create a collectivist problem, everybody has to sort of work together to solve this particular problem.

If you’re facing a collectivist problem, then you need to have enough of a a strain of collectivism in your population to solve for that problem.

In a business example, suppose an entire industry is in trouble.

Right? An entire industry is is struggling to to prosper.

In an individualist mindset, each company would be you know every man for himself.

Let’s let’s sabotage each other on the way down because we want to be the the first off the cliff I guess.

Whereas a collectivist mindset would be okay, let’s band together so that we can solve this problem and not not suffer the consequences.

A really good example of this is the Motion Picture Association of America.

This is a trade organization that was created by the major movie production houses because the government was threatening censorship, saying hey, you guys aren’t regulating the content that’s going into your motion pictures? We think there should be some kind of standards.

And so we’re going to impose it and so the Motion Picture Association of America was founded by movie studios as a collectivist action to say you know what, we’d rather regulate ourselves than have politicians be regulating us.

And as a result, we have a system that is still in place today and works reasonably well.

Right you there are some movies that you know, the rating system says hey, take your kids to the movie other movies where the rating system says no responsible parents should be allowing their their are a minor child to see this movie under any condition.

And that’s an example of a collectivist mindset that works really well.

Conversely, if you’re in an industry that is stuck, that is stagnant, everyone’s doing the doing the best practices and there’s no innovation.

That’s when an individualist mindset is needed.

When your organization your company can say, You know what, collectively, we’re not making any progress here.

Maybe we need to break away from the pack and do something different.

And we need to do something that is contrary to the way everyone is going.

You see this with companies like Apple, right? Apple? Apple is founded on design, right? That is That is their forte, they don’t really innovate, right? Apple was not the first graphical user interface that belongs to Hewlett Packard.

Apple was not the first consumer computer that belongs to IBM.

Apple was not the first smartphone maker.

Well, there were there were smartphones, long before Apple’s iPhone, they were just not particularly very good, right.

Things like the BlackBerry and stuff, these are the they existed, they had dominant market share.

Apple was not the first tablet producer, Apple was not the first smartwatch producer.

But their individualist streak, the anti collectivist streak is around design.

And they say let’s do things in a in a totally different way and invest heavily in design.

So that we were not going to be the first to market let’s be the best to market and do things in a way that is different than everybody else is doing it different operating system not interoperable different standards, all these different things that in a purely collectivist environment would kind of do mycompany.

But because the in this example, they take an individualist mindset, they they do reasonably well in their trillion dollar company and change.

So the question and the thing to think about here is, what situations are you facing that our collective action solutions? And what things are individual action solutions? In your own career in your own company and your own team? Which side of the spectrum Do you lean more towards? Do you lean more towards collective action and building consensus? Do you lean more towards the that sort of going rogue mindset, there isn’t a right or wrong point of view, there isn’t one that’s better than the other, it’s all situational.

But knowing which way you tend to lean and knowing how your your team and your company behaves, will let you be more clear minded and clear eyed about your prospects for success.

When you’re facing different kinds of problems.

If you are a collectivist company, and you’re facing a challenge that needs an individual’s mindset, you’re gonna have a hard time and the vice and vice versa.

The reverse is also true.

If you are an individuals company that requires participation in a collective solution, you’re gonna have a hard time.

So give that some thought.

How do you apply this spectrum? Where do you fit on this spectrum? And are the problems you’re facing now? leaning more towards one side? And if so, are you equipped to deal with that in terms of your own mindset? Thanks for tuning in.

We’ll see you soon.

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