• The value of time to think
  • Corporate culture and ‘busy’ as the hallmarks of success
  • Lessons from leaders who take time to think
  • Making timely and relevant decisions today about tomorrow

The Value of Time to Think

Trend management is essential to engage with change, and fundamental to this process is shifting from a mindset of short-term delivery to long-term rewards. This is quite a leap, as it requires us to challenge the status quo. In particular, we must question the focus on delivering goals within a short time frame that we see affecting leadership in business and society as well as individuals and their lifestyle choices.

Traditional corporate culture tends to focus on operations and projected growth, in short-term cycles – at the risk of losing out on the opportunities (and averting the possible threats) that become apparent when we step back and look at the ‘bigger picture’ in a long-term frame.

For too long, ‘busy’ has been a hallmark of success, measured in constant frenetic activity. The sink or swim mentality has dictated how we consider ourselves in the working environment and we have developed a clear bias for ‘doing’ over ‘thinking’. But being busy is easy – there will always be another meeting to attend, another problem to solve or another email to write. Taking the necessary time out to think is harder to justify, even though it is an essential strategic investment.

Some of the most successful leaders in the world have practised the art of time to think for a long time. Bill Gates, for example, would famously take a week off twice a year to spend in a secret waterfront cottage – to think and reflect on Microsoft and its future without any distraction. Similarly, Warren Buffet has stated that he insists on: “a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think”. In fact, by his own estimate, he has spent about 80% of his career engaged in reading and thinking

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”

Abraham Lincoln

Breathe in –

Breathe out

Similarly, if your output and your innovation capacity is drying up in the face of eternal firefighting and you only have the opportunity to consider things through the prism of the next set of targets, then it’s definitely time to step away from the office and your daily routine to regain the broader perspective and rekindle the passion for what you do. Most people can tell you about the what and the how of their job, but when it comes to the WHY? it is often much harder. Ultimately, this comes down to answering the question: ‘why do I get up in the morning to go to work?’

Time to think has always been a core proposition in my work as a futurist and founder of Kjaer Global – it is what informs trend management because it’s a proactive way to make the most of your ‘time out’. Finally, consider for a moment the words of Abraham Lincoln who said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. This quote highlights the critical relationship between the accomplishment of a strategy and careful consideration and planning. Or, as Peter Drucker said: “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action”.