The Container Store

Whole-Brained Thinking

Whole-Brained Thinking

Film director Stanley Kubrick is widely considered one of the greatest and most important filmmakers of all time. During his long career, he helmed such iconic works as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, and Full Metal Jacket, and he was well-known for his highly methodical, perfectionist method of working with his actors and crew.
While some outside observers saw this as evidence that he was aloof or dictatorial, those close to Kubrick claim he actually had much more of a warm, collaborative relationship with those on set. In fact, several of his producers and crew members have attested that he would go so far as to make sure the studio doormen and janitorial staff got to share any thoughts they had regarding the script or the production. Makeup artist Barbara Daly described him as a “sponge,” soaking up good ideas from everyone around him to make the film better.

At The Container Store, this collaborative approach is what we call “whole-brained” thinking. Every employee is part of our company’s cognitive process, so we encourage open communication, value constructive feedback, and believe that good ideas can come from anyone. In a large company, even a seemingly minor change in policy or process by one department can significantly impact a completely different department in unexpected ways, so it’s important to think outside the box and consider any long-term effects carefully. By encouraging honest and open communication company-wide, you can help set the tone for a healthy, rewarding, and even fun workplace.

How can you engage your company in whole-brained thinking? Here are a few ideas:

  • When communicating your ideas, always consider your audience. Who might benefit from this information? And who might add a whole new perspective to these ideas?
  • Be open to feedback from anyone, even if a particular subject isn’t necessarily that person’s area of expertise.
  • Consider the power of your “wake.” Just like a boat’s wake has an effect on everything behind it, each person also has a wake, and their decisions impact those around them more than they realize.
  • Say no to “yes men.” It’s hard to learn anything new if you surround yourself with only those who share your opinions, so don’t be afraid of getting outside input. Healthy disagreements are a key to growth, both professionally and personally.
  • Always remember: whether you’re directing a movie or a working as part of a company, whole-brained thinking allows everyone involved to become fully-invested in what you’re doing and bring their best ideas to the table!