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The Value of Thought

The Value of Thought
Image credit: Daria Nepriakhina
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Do you know why Archimedes came up with the ‘Archimedes Principle' in his bathtub? Not because he experienced it, but that was the only place where he could think peacefully!

My obsession with thinking began when I started writing blogs regularly. In order to write something, there is a great deal of thinking that needs to go into it. I never realised that was the reason I did not write regularly.

In order to come up with good ideas and do good work, it is important to be able to think about the work that you are going to be doing. Taking all of the information that you have and letting it assimilate in your mind is extremely important.

Now picture this. An employee walks into the office and spends the whole day staring at the window. I do not suppose anybody in the office would be fine with that. This is what a person, who is thinking, would seem to be doing.

There is absolutely no debating if thinking is an important activity; still it is not given its due credit and is considered the unproductive use of time. This results in a work culture where people are constantly doing things, without thinking too much about why and how!

There are various suggestions on giving people more time outside of the workplace. There is the theory of doing a four-day work week as well as the Scandinavian approach of 6-hour work days. But very few have bought into these ideas. Corporates prefer their old ways and somehow paying the same amount of money to a person who is going to start working less is not an idea that many are interested in buying into.

This issue gets even more exaggerated in the case of startups. Because of the emphasis on execution, there is more and more time spent doing things and less and less time spent thinking about things. People tend to pride themselves in working 18 hour days. After putting the mind and body through 18 hours of anything, what kind of capacity to think might be left?

A gentleman once told me that in India we are 3, 4, 5 kinds of people while in Japan they are the 5, 4, 3 kinds. When I asked him what these numbers meant he told me;

3 = ACT

4 = PLAN


He said; In India when we start a project, we spend 70 percent of the time in doing things.  20 percent of the time planning, and only 10 percent of the time thinking. While in Japan before they even embark on any project, they spend 70 percent of the time thinking, 20 percent of the time planning and only 10 percent of the time executing.

Don’t get me wrong here. It is important to execute, and it is only great executing that finally wins the day. But that execution should be based on the fundamental thought process that is extremely strong. When the thought process of how and why is extremely clear, the execution moves forward faster and the things fall in place. Also, if things do not work out, it is easier to point out the fallacy of thought that contributed to a misstep.

 I keep telling startup founders, that I work with, to surround themselves with thinkers. Talk to a lot of people and discuss various ideas and get them thrashed out. It is purely by thinking deeply that you can make an idea better, clearer and well-defined. It is as important to think about the action, as it is to act.

If you have some of the best people working for you, it is absolutely imperative that you give them time to think. Smart people have the ability to critically dissect idea, improve upon them and deliver great insights. It is important for them to think so that they can come up with wonderful solutions. Find smart people who are passionate about your cause, give them a problem and let them think. They will come up with a plethora of solutions.

How often do you find a scenario where such a thing is allowed to happen? Instead, we attempt to undertake meeting after meeting. Force a solution at the earliest and make many more mistakes. All that is needed is some time to be put aside to think. Think and solutions will emerge.

So what have you been thinking about lately?