The main reason your team is not creative and collaborative: it’s in their brains

busting cognitive bias with disrupt design


Cognitive biases are like contagious brain glitches that affect every human on the planet. Neuro and social sciences have identified and named hundreds of different biases that are socially transferred and replicated. They inhibit our ability to think and behave rationally, and they cloud our better judgment.

Common tendency of filtering input through one’s own likes, dislikes, and experiences to acquire, retain, and process information. Refer also to confirmation bias.
— Law Dictionary, Definition of COGNITIVE BIAS: Black's Law Dictionary

Cognitive biases that impact all of us daily include:

  • Confirmation bias, where we filter information to see only what confirms what we already believe
  • Loss aversion, where we avoid the cognitive pain of losing something
  • Hindsight bias, where we think we knew something was going to happen all along only after the event has happened
  • Anchoring effect, where are brains are anchored to the most recent piece of information that shift our perspectives of it
  • Status quo bias, where we try to maintain the status quo
  • Choice paralysis, where too many options make it hard for us to make a decision

There are literally hundreds more. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely has fantastic free resources to discover more of them.



Image by Business Insider


Marketers and technology companies have capitalized on these biases, playing with the influences that subtly direct our behaviors. They guide everything from our purchasing decisions through to how we respect others.  

But, there is a big issue here – implicit biases. These are the biases that are buried deep within our subconscious decision-making part of the brain. They subtly influence how we see, respect, and work with others. Implicit biases are causing major issues within organizations because they breed stereotypes and can inhibit fair, equity-based workplaces.

unconscious bias

When it comes to effective, collaborative, and respectful workplaces, all humans need ways of categorizing in order to make sense of the world. Yet, these give way to prejudice (which literally means pre-judgment) and forming boxed opinions of people based on social markers of race, gender, and socio-economic status.

When we pre-judge other people, we restrict their ability to out-perform our limited expectations of them. As a manager, this often means you limit people's development based on limited expectations, usually based on judgments that you are not even aware of. As a co-worker, this can mean you unintentionally offend your colleague by saying something that seems reasonable to you but is not to them. 

Understanding the language around biases, how they work, and ways of completely recoding them is one of the most valuable and under-used business tools today.  

In order for an organization to respectfully hire, manage, and retain workers, they need to foster a culture of bias busting and respectful acceptance. This means the organization must activate equitable access and provide training that goes beyond a video. Simply learning about biases does not always help you unravel the complex brain glitches that build up and lock down over time. There are ways to override bias, but first one must understand how the brain codes the world and forms bias to begin with. 

Our method for rapidly overcoming biases and building equity within organizations is based on extensive research. We have spent thousands of hours testing and evolving creative ways of empowering and motivating teams to see through the stereotypes and biases that impede their creativity, collaborative spirit, and productivity.

What is the most untapped power of the human brain? It’s not what you think it might be...

the power of thinking in systems thinking
“The most significant behaviour of the brain is humor because it indicates an asymmetric patterning system”
— Edward de Bono

Individual growth requires the ability to reflect and dynamically learn. Why is it that you can have a highly intelligent person who is not good at thinking, or an incredible thinker who is not classically considered intelligent?

The father of lateral thinking, Edward de Bono, illustrates this phenomena through a simple example of a car. He says that intelligence is like the horsepower of a motor, whereas thinking is the capabilities of the driver.

These two are not mutually exclusive, but without the capability of the driver, the car doesn't go anywhere.

So – intelligence is pointless unless you have the thinking tools to unlock and apply it.


It's hard to believe, but many people don't think very well. Years of structured education and work life often form neurological pathways that are designed to facilitate focused and restricted thinking.

These pathways minimize the danger of being wrong or missing out on the rewards created by schools and organizations. People often limit or box in their thinking tools, restricting the horsepower of their intelligence.

We are seeing more and more rigid and restrictive thinking in organizations, which results in a net loss of creativity and productivity.

More now than ever, the world needs dynamic, flexible, and divergent thinkers to help explore and evolve the complex problems that we all face.  


Shifting mindsets and perspectives
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
— Albert Einstein

Fostering Creative Confidence

One quick way to unlock your creativity potential is to make it fun... seriously. Play-based professional activities, from Lego Play to Gamestorming, are quickly gaining popularity.

These types of play-based explorations develop new neurological pathways and flood the brain with reward neurochemicals like dopamine.

We investigated the positive benefits of play-based creativity tools, and came up with 25 exercises called Designercise. These play based exercises help break down rigid thinking and build creative brain pathways.


How often do you enable an environment that deliberately fosters creativity? In order to enhance strategic and effective problem solving, people need access to the right-fit tools.

They also need time and techniques that will help them get to the end goal. Our brains are highly effective patterning machines, meaning they make sense of the world through creating relationships.

Yet, we are often taught to break the world down into individual chunks and solve problems in isolation. We instead should be solving problems in more dynamic and chaotic ways.


Creativity is not a special talent that some people have and others don't. It is the ability to break through the cognitive restraints and structures we all place on our thinking skills.

This is why conformity is one of the biggest killers of creativity. Curiosity is the remedy to conformity, and the way to enhance creative confidence is to shift perspectives on how the world works.

Creativity is a skill that everyone can learn – there are no magical potions or special talents that people need.

We are all born with the same thinking capabilities, and creativity is about how we design our brains to interpret the world. It is not some innate skill that we have or need in order to unlock our creative thinking skills.

Confidence in anything comes through positive reinforcement, and creativity is no different.