This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories here.
"Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by (common to) nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly all people without any need for debate."
If organizations are to successfully meet the economic and competitive challenges of contemporary markets, they need leaders who don't rely on "common sense" to guide them.
Individuals who don't "perceive, understand and judge things ..." like everyone else.
Leaders who don't look through a lens shared with the crowd to problem solve and innovate; who don't expect a shared solution to miraculously cure their specific ills and enable them to gain a strategic advantage over their competitors.
Application of the common sense in this way isn't helpful.
How does applying what is commonly held as fact "... without any need for debate" stimulate innovation and creativity?
How does it help build a culture that challenges the status quo and is curious to try new ways of doing things?
An important issue in organizations today is the reliance on "best practices" to make strategic change.
Strategic success does not come from applying a cookie cutter approach where a best practice is transposed from one organizational context to another.
It might come close to improving work processes and operating systems of the copycat, but it does so for every other organization trying to make them their own.
Everyone clusters together; no operational advantage for any member of the herd is conferred.
And strategic advantage is gained by no one.
The common sense is herd mentality; it represents the lowest common denominator thinking.
It is a safe haven for those who believe there is safety in numbers; that to do what everyone else does offers a "comfort blanket" for protection.
After all, if 100 other organizations incorporated this system, it must be the best approach, right?
We don't need copycat leaders.
We need leaders who observe the common sense, but are not compliant with it. Who view a best practice as a benchmark to deviate from by adding their own twist to it.
Leaders who are driven to discover uncommon sense to provide their organization with unique solutions that the crowd hasn't discovered.
Who can see opportunity in differences rather than similarities.
Who change the conversation in their organizations from "Who is best in class and how can we copy them?" to "How can we be unique and go in a different direction?"
Who encourage debate over common principles and accepted dogma.
Who encourage their teams to cast off the common and look for a contrarian approach.
The common sense is a questionable leadership concept; it will not prepare organizations to be unique and special in our crazy competitive world.
It will continue to propagate sameness and mediocrity.
Roy Osing (@RoyOsing), former executive vice-president of Telus, is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series, Be Different or Be Dead.