High Time for “Think Time”

Emergency strikes your organization! You ring the alarms and swing in to action. Soon, the problem gets resolved—and then what?

While most of us would get right back to business as usual, some of our favorite leadership experts, such as Marshall Goldsmith and our Drucker School colleague Jeremy Hunter, strongly advise that we stop and think before moving on. In fact, they suggest that we spend more time “thinking” in general in order to develop the systems and practices that would help us avoid emergencies in the first place.

It is a common mistake. Executive coach and author Andy Hill finds that many of the top managers he works with “spend so much time dealing with urgent crises that they cannot find the time to do the truly important work of creatively planning for the future—which inevitably leads to a never-ending supply of crises.”

[EXPAND More]Granted, it might seem in our highly connected, 24/7 world that we cannot afford to luxuriate in our thoughts. But a new book by Daniel Forrester proposes that without sufficient “think time,” our organizations are imperiled. “While technology allows us to act and react more quickly than ever before, we are taking increasingly less time to consider our decisions before we make them,” Forrester writes. “With all the speed and immediate reaction practiced within organizations today, we are witnessing countless real-time examples of the very edge of man’s ability to ‘corral’ the same technologies he so proudly deploys.

“From shocking market fluctuations with no logical explanations,” Forrester adds, “to an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico revealing countless engineering, managerial, and oversight missteps, we are living through the simultaneous conditions of technology enablement of mankind’s most profound insights and poorly executed ideas.”

As we’ve noted, Peter Drucker surely would have agreed with that diagnosis—as well as with the cure. “Follow effective action with quiet reflection,” he said. “From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

So, how about you and your organization: How much “think time” is built into your work flow?[/EXPAND]


Image source: Andrew McMillan