You Need to Think Before you Can Innovate
Before you can change the way you think you need to take the time to think. We live in a culture of get it done and urgency. No time for thinking.
Don't think about it, just do it. We don't reward thinking. We reward action.
We value the guy that says ‘I'll solve that problem for you right now!’ more than the one that says ‘Can I think about that and get back to you tomorrow?’. One is seen as strong and action oriented and the other as weak and uncertain.
People need to be willing to say ‘I need to think about that’ - then actually think about it.
Innovation doesn’t happen without thinking deeply and clearly about a problem. There are no easy routes. Idea management systems, pool tables and flexible working hours won’t bear innovative fruit if they’re not underpinned by a culture that rewards thought over action.
Many business people have done such a great job of pre-programmed responses that they're not even aware they don't think anymore.
Seasoned consultants can throw out an appropriate response at every turn. They don't think about it; responses pop out instantaneously and automatically because they have heard the discussion 500 times before. Their responses are as wired in as saying ‘fine’ in response to ‘how are you?’. And clients value them based on the speed at which they can lob back a credible return.
That's not thinking. That's going through the motions. The counter argument is that it’s the experience that brings those quick responses. But there is a fine line between experience and auto-pilot. There are contextual differences in every situation - and ignoring those may be ignoring innovative opportunity that may surface with time spent thinking and digesting.
Indeed, while experience can correct the shade of rose-coloured glasses and temper optimism, it can also create blind-spots. Clarity of thought brings fresh ideas and is as fundamental to seeing new opportunities as experience is to recognising traps.
Layering thinking over experience can bring a balanced view to innovative ideas. But people need to be brave enough, even those expected to have the immediate answers, to stop and think.
Think about what you're seeing. Think about connections between the business challenges and the external opportunities. Think about taking a completely different approach than you have previously.
Thinking is hard. It's tiring. That's why organisations look for models and structures that will negate the need for thinking. Auto-pilot is easier. Status quo is easier. Conforming is easier.
But if you're not willing to engage your brain - to absorb it in the context that surrounds you, you're not willing to innovate.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it. Thanks - Shelley.