Think Fast or Think Well?

Author: Bernard Clarke @berneeclarke

We do not contribute to our business success by reacting to every situation; creating the reflex to respond to situations, learning to make thoughtful choices can increase our effectiveness.

Thinking well can save time well

I've come across a number of people recently in my professional life who seem challenged by the need to be business leaders who 'think well'. They are in a hurry to get things done and be successful; by thinking fast they believe they are making the best choices. This is not always the case. For those that remember the fable of the tortoise versus the hare they know this to be true; business is competitive but the 'race' we engage in is a marathon not a sprint!

For example. it it is easy for those leading start-ups to skip the detailed analysis of a potential market or avoid getting into the minutiae of financial forecasting. These tasks require reflection and revision and they take time. In the early entrepreneur's enthusiasm to start work they can often be irritated by thinking and not actively working in their business.

Whereas, for a senior manager in an organisation time seems to be so scarce that they race from meeting to meeting, reading papers on the fly and making snap decisions. The pressure of the company to do and continue to do more seems more pressing than questioning 'why?' something is being done.

For a growing business, it can be irritating for the owner if personnel spend too much time investigating new ideas or innovating processes. After all, resources are usually stretched thinly and customers demand to be served, costs need to be kept low and profit can often become most prevalent in mind.

These scenarios remind me of a quote attributed to Henry Ford: “Thinking is the hardest thing to do, which is probably why so few people engage in it.”

Whatever our role in leading a company, smart businesses - the ones who want to get ahead of the competition - make time to think well. They work as hard ON their business as IN their business. They assess why resources (such as money, time, marketing) are deployed and where best to invest time can reduce costs and save fruitless ventures. Such practice also builds understanding and enable the talents of a whole team to emerge.

A little quality time thinking 'well' can reduce the mistakes of thinking too 'fast'.

For me, I value focused time with colleagues on future targets, plans and aspirations. We clear our agenda and for that time - whether 30 minutes, 2 hours or a day - we give collective thought to improving our business. It does not happen naturally, time must be planned and protected. This always gives us insight to work smarter and keep fixed on the right business goals.

So, my questions to that busy reader are:

  • Do you make enough time to think well?
  • When do you find clarity of thought?
  • With whom should you make time to plan and forecast with?

If what to achieve greater success, I would encourage you to invest in improving your work life by finding ways of thinking and acting well.