Making Time to Think

Time to changeJanuary 27, 2011

Making Time to Think

Many of us work in a whir – no time to ask why; no time to explore any future consequences far removed. We do what is immediately necessary, like that line in the Charge of the Light Brigade, “Ours is not to question why; ours is but to do or die.” Get the order, get ‘er done; get money quicker; and pay it out slower.

Even if not directly subject to Wall Street earnings games, much of the business world still exhausts itself running in place. Run out of cash, and we won’t survive to see any long term, or so we think. But the long-term will eventually come.

Making big changes in how we think is never easy. The first stage is to realize that continuing is long run disaster. And the first step onto that stage is to ignore distractions, pry information from outside our daily rut, and make time to ruminate. We have to work through the doubts that keep us in our rut. We have to set aside that time, the first step in changing value systems; at least as tough as sticking to a diet.

A leader that does that takes the first step toward creating a vigorous learning organization, the best insurance to survive change so turbulent that business models must modify. Very few organizations today are capable of navigating enough information from enough directions to “do it all,” putting quality before quantity in the long run. Vigorous learning has to master lean, quality, supply collaboration, and much of the rest that characterizes superior companies today; plus it has to have the behavior and moxie to deal with systemic problems sometimes called wicked. Here are a few attributes of that kind of complexity:

Intricacy: Large number of components or sub-systems.

Interrelations: Feedback among subsystems influence each other.

Change: “Before I figure out where it’s at; somebody’s moved it.”

Involvement: I, the observer, am a participant in the system.

Boundless: No limits on what the system affects or which affects it.

Clash: No two observers have the same view, or exactly the same framework of thought to interpret it. Some frameworks conflict.

Impermanent Resolution: No final answers; just better outcomes.

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