The Importance of Spatial Thinking in the Workplace and Why it is Crucial for Strategic Leadership

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  • What is spatial thinking?

    Spatial thinking includes processes that support exploration and understanding.

    An expert spatial thinker visualizes relations and imagines transformations from one scale to another.

    In a tangible setting, a spatial thinker mentally rotates an object to look at its different sides and can then create a new viewing angle or perspective.

    The same applies to intangible settings where the spatial thinker tends to view matters from a different perspective and manages to find out of the box options and solutions.

    Spatial Thinking in the workplace

    Numerous studies have found a significant correlation between spatial thinking and success in dependent task accomplishment, high performance in academic courses, and career persistence.

    That’s why it’s crucial for a Strategic Leader to acquire the skills of Spatial thinking.

    In a simple manner, spatial thinking will allow leaders to effectively externalize daily operations by creating representations such as a map, where relations and interdependence among various aspects becomes more clearer for decision making. 

    The good thing is that according to Newcombe (2010) spatial thinking skills are malleable— meaning it can be improved with training.

    And there are numerous educational and training interventions that have recently emerged for improving spatial thinking.

    The coming section discusses some of them. 

    How to improve the ability to think Spatially? 

    Spatial thinking

    Spatial thinking can be taught, triggered and boosted. Once acquired spatial thinking will develop into spatial intelligence over time.

    Such skills are imperative for success in any career and within social interaction as well.  

    Here are some simple exercises to help build up those skills among your employees:

    • Surprisingly, by creating a 3D model you can trigger information retention. Visualizing new information in a real, 3D location improves memory. 

    For example, if you understand the concept of a 2D flat image vs.

    a 3D space like your office, you can acquire the intentional skill to absorb, with all your senses, i.e. where is the place trainings are being conducted, and thus you are more likely to recall its content later on.

    This is also why you tend to recall face-to-face work meetings more than a conference call. You simply have a 3D reference and memory.

    • Stimulation and visual imagery to represent an object that is no longer physically present also improve critical thinking and problem-solving. 
    • Spatial IQ Training – A puzzle is a game that uses the reverse approach to the game “Memory”. What shape/ decision/idea fits the 3D space out of all the possibilities? This is a great critical thinking activity as well. If you work in the construction field this is a relevant and effective technique to enhance the spatial thinking skills of your team. 
    • Spatial reasoning games where you look at an object from all sides, including top and bottom, literally teach your employees how to “think outside the box” and leverage visual reasoning abilities which in turn enhances task prioritization and ordering skills.
    • In review meetings and discussions always encourage descriptive and elaborative solutions and propositions. Also, encourage the use of gestures and demonstrations when presenting new or innovative ideas.   

    Spatial Thinking and Spatial Business

    Spatial business is the application of geographic information systems (GIS) and location analytics to gather business intelligence that can be used for effective decision-making.

    The integration of spatial business includes gathering location data and organizing layers of information into visualizations like maps and 3D scenes.

    This data can then deliver powerful insights into markets, customers, services, logistics, supply chains, and asset and risk management. 

    Spatial thinking works to enhance and grow understanding of location value, spatial decision-making, and locational strategies in business.

    Giving your employees and business an edge in a highly competitive market.

    Hence leaders should start working on developing networks of collaborative partnerships and projects with companies, communities, and academic organizations to promote cooperation in furthering scientific understanding of place and location for organization and business success

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