The Value of Thinking in a Do Culture

We live in a culture that attributes reckless indifference to theory and learning lightly. That has consequences. Why?

Because everyone is leading with solutions in search of a problem — we don't stay with problems long enough to understand them. You could say the people who win, are the ones who have the lower degree of misunderstandings today.

One of my ten beliefs is that we need to recognize the value and importance of planning and serendipity. Both. Acting and executing is front and center. However, we need to think before we act (or more likely react).

People worship at the altar of "just doing" these days. As I wrote in the prequel, which is the dominant philosophy of how I work, there is a cult of execution without the corresponding room for running diagnostics and understanding the very things we rush to fix.


Give it five minutes

Jason Fried is someone I admire and read frequently. I used 37Signals examples throughout my presentation on content as a business asset at Confab2011. In a recent post, give it five minutes, he talked about the value of thinking:

it’s fine to disagree, it’s fine to push back, it’s great to have strong opinions and beliefs, but give my ideas some time to set in before you’re sure you want to argue against them

Take the five minutes as a symbol of time. Do we give ourselves five minutes to think? Do we give our marketing programs five minutes to work? How about our business plans? Do you give five minutes to talent knocking on your door or do you already know that the old "award-winning" formula is the only way to go?

My friend Peter spent more than years thinking about a problem — more than ten years.

People spend entire careers solving certain kinds of problems and, I argue forcefully, the more diverse the problems, the stronger candidates they are to solve yours in a complex business environment filled with convergence and in need of deconstructing and reconstructing.

I liken pushing back without asking questions to lack of flexibility and inability to adapt to changing times.

We're too easy. When it comes to compromise, it's very tempting to revert back to what is known and comfortable even as it's working less and less or not at all.


The value of thinking

As Fried says:

There are two things in this world that take no skill:

1. Spending other people’s money and

2. Dismissing an idea.

Worse, we dismiss the people with the idea, too. When you worship at the altar of doing the work, that is a cop out — dismissal without thinking takes no work at all. It's all too easy to say no. It takes more abilities to say yes.

How many times where you mistaken? Who ends up changing the world?

Thinking heps us understand before we do, so we can do it again. A precious skill.


[image from my deck on content analysis: where is the story?]

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