10X Thinking 10X Leadership

It’s easy to become a complacent thinker.  Its easy to apply your current framework of thinking to new encounters, ideas, and propositions.  Its easy to think within boundaries, within familiar containers, and within normal.  Its not easy to push through that threshold to unleash your thinking, to discard and lay behind you the boundaries that constrain thought.

dog on fence2Being able to do so is the first step towards a new normal, one based in everything but normal.  Being able to think with a freedom that enables the mind to wander, to juxtapose idea upon idea, and to see the light of innovation with clarity and intent is to approach a rarefied condition of thought.  It is such thinking that gives rise to purposeful and expansive opportunity.  It is such thinking that provides the foundation for the leadership required to provide the call to action so desperately needed in the education profession.

10X thinking is a provocative idea.  Especially for education.  The process of 10X thinking, according to Google, results in a 10X change in something, rather than a 10% change.  It’s about big ideas, new ideas, and the ability to seek large scale impact.  It’s not about aligning Bloom’s taxonomy with iPad apps, wondering endlessly about the need for technology integration, or having spaces for student learning that reflect ages old design.  10X thinking looks forward, and not towards a condition where retrofitting ideas onto old practice maintains the status quo and a culture of comfort.

Being a leader means thinking in a 10X way.  It just does.  You have to.  Nothing less will suffice.  Not today, and not certainly tomorrow.  Being able to think in a 10X way reflects a mindset and set of behaviors that can create the conditions for 10X leadership – demanding that the impact of leadership results in 10X changes in the student experience, rather than being satisfied with a 10% incremental improvement.

I believe leaders must think at this scale.  After all, that’s what meaningful leadership is about, and what is required from leadership in today’s climate of education.  So, consider the following characteristics of 10X thinking as being representative in the way in which true leaders think:

10X thinking:

It’s human.  10X Thinking is a distinctly human process, rooted in the fundamental and enormous potential of the human condition to persistently dream in new directions.

It’s a mindset.  10X Thinking is a mindset that sees every opportunity as a possibility and every possibility as an opportunity.

It’s boundless. 10X Thinking is boundless, and moves beyond traditional containers and boundaries to extend thought and ideation in multiple directions and tangents.  There are no limitations and this degree of freedom opens the mind to question, to consider, and to be open to ideas in all directions.  10X thinkers are willing to bravely step through a threshold from the traditional and expected to the bold and unknown.

It’s about distance.  How far can an idea travel? What is its arc of impact?  And beyond a distance, what are the depths and breadth of an idea?

It’s a language.  How people communicate their ideas matter.  Do you have a language that supports how people talk about ideas?  Do you have a language capable of supporting a mindset of 10X thinking?

It’s everywhere.  The next 10X idea is only a click away.   It’s in the next conversation.  It’s in a photograph.  It’s in the next sentence.  It’s in the morning at 3 AM.  It’s in a glance.  It’s in the next idea.  It’s in a daydream and it can be anywhere.  Learn to recognize 10X ideas when they present themselves because they will.

It’s about urgency.  10X thinkers put things into play now and get better at them.  Education doesn’t have time to wait, bold ideas are needed now.

It’s about design.  10X Thinking requires incubation.  And then acceleration.  Acceleration causes collisions.  And collisions set in motion new trajectories that lead to new insights and thinking beyond the traditional and expected.

It’s a choice.  10X Thinking is a conscious choice. It’s about giving yourself permission to think in a new way.

And most importantly, its about culture:  it’s about the capacity, and the willingness, to rethink everything together, and sharing the responsibility of thinking boldly and leading boldly.  It’s about a cultural value of risk-taking and creating the conditions for nurturing and incubating big thinking and big ideas.  Its about the acceptance of being wrong and the expectation of the relentless pursuit of right, however right is defined.  It’s about the willingness to express ideas, and the expectation that others will have that you do.  It’s about a culture of willingness and the capacity for creating this type of thinking in everyone…and in the process, creating the cultural conditions for making everyone leaders in their own right.


  1. May I reproduce this article for staff??

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