The 21st-century is when right-brainers will rule the future
Albert Einstein famously said, “If I had an hour to save the world, I’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and five minutes finding the solution.” Implicit in that statement is an unwavering confidence in his ability to … just simply think, a current lack of which is a rampant condition.
Why, then, does so much data repeatedly show that in many companies, executives spend less than two hours a month engaged in strategic thinking and planning? We could call it what it is.
Fear! And then avoidance.
Far too often, when we’re faced with the need to strategize, visions of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War intimidate and paralyze us. We are afraid we’ll fall short of that and, heaven forbid, we don’t want to fail in full view of everyone else. Well, of course we’ll fall short of that; everyone since then has. That’s why that book is on so many corner office bookshelves. But when that fear leads to avoidance, the whole thing gets messy.
Are we afraid and do we avoid? Deny that if you will, but what else explains that less-than-two-hour-per-month behavior?
Peter Drucker said, “People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete, the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are.” In order to break that pattern, one must think, but not necessarily in left-brained, linear, predictable ways, as we’re taught in our business school classrooms.
“Why right-brainers will rule the future.”
Daniel F. Pink declared in his landmark book A Whole New Mind that right-brainers – those creative, intuitive, free-wheeling, playful, inductive, fearless thinkers who like new ideas and who easily let go of what didn’t work (or won’t anymore) – will, as he said, “rule the future.” That’s clearly because what they do is really what thinking is all about, as compared to the phenomenon that Drucker described, namely, attachment to the obsolete. Repetition and perpetuation of old thinking, albeit logical at times, is not thinking – and certainly is not strategizing. Strategy requires new ideas.
“No, no, you’re not thinking…”
Niels Bohr, Nobel Laureate, contemporary of Einstein, and one of history’s great thinkers, became flustered one day when a colleague was trying to defend a theory. Obvious to Bohr was the flaw he saw in it, but after a while, upon reaching the limit of his exasperation, Bohr cried out, “No, no, you’re not thinking. You’re just being logical.”
So if you had just one hour to save your company – with no second chance – how would you handle it?
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