Lesson 1.0:

The Power of Cognitive Differences

Watch the following video, then proceed to the Key Concepts below:


Key Concepts:


Two heads are not usually better than one.

  • Groups of people are usually only as smart as either the smartest, or the most powerful person in the group.

That’s because either:

  • The group thinks similarly enough that it will be constrained by whomever is smartest; or

  • The group defers to the most powerful or influential people, and is therefore constrained by those people

This means that much of the time, the smartest groups are simply the groups led by the smartest leader.

  • Most of the time, groups get strength in numbers, but their efficiency goes down the bigger they get.

  • Research experiments (and real life data) show that groups of people are usually less creative together than the individuals of the group are alone.

  • This is often because of subconscious pressure to conform or be accepted by the group; and

  • Other factors, which we will discuss in this course.

However, research shows that two heads can be smarter than one under certain circumstances.

  • Some groups of people manage to become more than the sum of their parts.

  • But this only happens if the people in the group think differently from each other in some ways.

  • This is not the only thing that matters for a group to have so-called “synergy,” but without different ways of thinking, you literally can’t be smarter together.

When we put different ways of thinking together, we have what’s called Cognitive Diversity.

  • In this section of the course, we’re going to learn how exactly this works—within a group of different thinkers, and within our own heads.

  • It starts by understanding two parts of every human’s mental toolkit: perspectives and heuristics. (The next two lessons are about these.)

  • After that, we’ll go deep into how cognitive diversity—and other kinds of diversity for that matter—work, when it does and does not matter, and how to think and speak differently about it.

Understanding the ins and outs of cognitive diversity will immediately help you be a more innovative thinker and a more empathetic person.