06 Jun 2008  What Do YOU Think?

Why Don’t Managers Think Deeply?

Online forum closed. Summing Up. According to Gerald and Lindsay Zaltman, nearly all research techniques commonly used today probe humans only at their conscious level, though it is the subconscious level that really determines behavior.

 

Summing Up

A since deceased, highly-regarded fellow faculty member, Anthony (Tony) Athos, occasionally sat on a bench on a nice day at the Harvard Business School, apparently staring off into space. When asked what he was doing, ever the iconoclast, he would say, "Nothing." His colleagues, trained to admire and teach action, would walk away shaking their heads and asking each other, "Is he alright?" It is perhaps no coincidence that Tony often came up with some of the most profound insights at faculty meetings and informal gatherings.

This story captures much of the sense of the responses to this month's question about why managers don't think deeply. The list of causes was much longer than the list of proposed responses. But in the process, some other questions were posed.

Ben Kirk kicked off the list of reasons for the phenomenon when he commented, "… what rises to the top levels are very productive and very diligent individuals who tend not to … reflect and are extremely efficient at deploying other people's ideas," implying that this type of leader is not likely to understand, encourage, or recognize deep thinking in others.

Adnan Younis added the possibility that "… managers are not trained for it." Dianne Jacobs cited the possibility that persisting assumptions borne out of success serve as "roadblocks to act on needed change" (proposed by those who engage in deep thinking?).

Ulysses U. Pardey, whose comment triggered my recollection of Tony Athos, wrote that "Time-for-thinking is a special moment which can be resource consuming and an unsafe activity …" (Fortunately, Athos held a tenured position in an academic organization.)

A number of comments alluded to the triumph of bureaucracies and large organizations over deep thinking. As Lorre Zuppan said, "I think Jeff Immelt's efforts to protect deep thinking reflect a nice sentiment but … If his team could carry the ball, would he need to announce that he's protecting it?" Tom Henkel was more succinct: "There's a name for managers who think deeply—entrepreneurs … Big companies are no place for big thinkers."

Providing time to reflect, particularly in an era of multi-tasking and the tyranny of technology, was most frequently suggested as an antidote to the dearth of deep thinking. As Chris Shannon put it, "I think creatively better out of the office, say while out in the boat or at a conference, so that looks very much like not working!!" Among other things, Krishna Sripad suggested fostering "an environment where transformation is 'truly' valued" by institutionalizing it and "setting aside a percentage of employee time" for it. Edward Hare proposes that organizations might "understand who their deep thinkers are and then make absolutely certain that they're in a position to take advantage of their rather unique capabilities."

Rob Smorfitt states that for many managers, "it (deep thinking) needs to be learned." This raises the question of whether it can be taught. Frances Pratt comments, "To get deep we must be deep." The issue is complicated by uncertainties about just what "deep thinking" is—pursuing "all possible threads, options" (Ganesh Ram), "adopting another's point of view" (E. Forrest Christian), something "hard and painful" (Phil Clark)?

Just what is it that should be taught? Does this have any place in a business school curriculum? If so, how should it be approached? What do you think?

Original Article

Jeffrey Immelt, GE's CEO, has received a lot of publicity recently for fostering "imagination breakthroughs" by encouraging managers to think deeply about innovations that will ensure GE's longer-term success. He has vowed that he will protect those working on the breakthroughs from the "budget slashers" focused on short-term success. Questions that this effort raises include: (1) Why so much publicity? (2) Isn't "deep thinking" what leaders are paid to do? and (3) Why do these kinds of effort require so much protection?

In their new book, Marketing Metaphoria, Gerald and Lindsay Zaltman suggest some answers to the questions. In decrying the lack of what they call "deep thinking" among managers and especially those responsible for marketing, they suggest some things that get in its way. Among them are: (1) reluctance to take risk, especially when short-term performance is at stake, (2) the fear of disruption resulting from "thinking differently and deeply," (3) the potential psychological cost of changing one's mind resulting from deep thinking, and (4) the lack of information providing deep insights on which to base deep thinking.

According to the Zaltmans, while nearly all research techniques commonly used today probe humans only at their conscious level, the subconscious (offering deep insights) really determines behavior, and that explains why humans don't behave as they say they will, whether in buying or other behaviors. As a result, for example, four in five product introductions perform below expectations.

The Zaltmans expand on ideas they have been studying for some years, namely that strategies of all kinds can be based on insights gained from listening in a disciplined way for metaphors that relatively small numbers of people (consumers, managers, public servants, etc.) use in the course of extended, probing interviews. In these interviews, the object is to use "surface metaphors," like "I am drowning in debt," to identify "metaphor themes," like "Money is like liquid," and the associated "deep metaphor," in this case "resource." They claim that just seven deep metaphors—balance (equilibrium), transformation (changing states or status), journey (as in life), container (keeping things in and keeping things out), connection (feelings of belonging or exclusion), resource (providing survival), and control—describe 70 percent of our inner feelings. The objective is to find deep metaphors that individuals share in common (a true market segment or a basis for resolving a confIict) rather than differences. If we would just take the time to explore them we would be able to realize such things as more substantial, farsighted, successful new product introductions (such as the hybrid auto ten years ago at Toyota); more successful conflict resolution; and more significant innovation, la GE, in general.

This raises several questions: Have the Zaltmans hit on a basic problem of leadership and management today? Are there appropriate responses other than the one that GE is pursuing? What is your organization doing to combat the absence of deep thinking in decision-making? What are you doing to combat it in thinking about your own life inside and outside the organization? What do you think?

To read more: Gerald Zaltman and Lindsay H. Zaltman, Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal About the Minds of Consumers (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2008); Gerald Zaltman, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2003)

Comments

    • J Ben Kirk
    • Principal, Achates Consulting

    Isn't it obvious?

    Good topic but the obvious is often overlooked. To rise through middle management to executive positions usually requires that managers display the ability and willingness to deploy the ideas and directives of those in positions of greater authority.

    Those who demonstrate independent thinking are usually perceived as threats. Those who generate thought and use deep or reflective thought in their work world are often discouraged when exposed to requirements of being a middle manager. They tend to either be moved around laterally or self select away from hierarchical systems.

    Hence, what rises to the top levels are very productive and very diligent individuals who tend not to think or reflect and are extremely efficient at deploying other people's ideas.

    Keep thinking, but don't forget the obvious!

     
     
     
    • Hemanshu Joshi
    • Sr Business Analyst, Global Information Technology

    I think the Zaltmans have spotted a correct issue that management suffers in most organizations. Not only managers, but even leadership in organization suffers with this myopia. In most organizations, management and leadership are task oriented rather than business oriented. They are reactive rather than proactive. Can you blame it on managers alone? Leadership is more responsible for such culture prevailing in the organization. They are usually so overwhelmed with the task at hand that they don't look for any creative solutions.

    To promote creativity you have to create a culture by giving the right incentives to your resources to encourage them to think creatively and with every achievement gain further confidence to think out of the box.

    However, the incentive given by Jeffrey Immelt sounds like a sword hanging over the neck of employees. Only if employees can innovate can they escape the wrath else they will be victims of budget slashing.

     
     
     
    • Adnan Younis
    • Section Officer, Ministry of Commerce, Pakistan

    This question is critical to success of any company in rapidly globalizing world.

    I am of the view that two things stand in the way of managers to think deeply and come out with efficient solutions.

    First, managers are not trained for it. Although the world is producing MBAs of high quality, too much emphasis on specialization and disregard of generalisation has eroded the ability of managers to think deeply and get solutions. Encouragement towards multi-dimensional activities and thoughts helps ingrain a contemplative attitude. The declining trend in managers to immerse themselve in the outside environment reduces their chances to think deeply and come out with innovation.

    Second, the culture of "Quarter" is to be blamed for pushing managers to think only short-term. Companies are always trying to make the next quarter better than the previous; managers only do it leaving the important work of thinking to ensure the viability of their company in the coming decades.

     
     
     
    • Dianne Jacobs
    • Founding Principal, The Talent Advisors (Melbourne, Australia)

    Attitudes to change also influence the innovation culture. The human side of change is complicated. The action-oriented, transaction-driven corporate world gives very little acceptance to executives being self-reflective. Analytical, questioning and critical in their cognitive style, they are not fully aware of the defenses they have developed to protect their world. Too swamped by operational tasks they tend to manage in the moment - it is the doing-trap. In fact, reflection and the unlearning of habits that may be needed to think at a different and deeper level can make executives feel uncomfortable and anxious.

    Success is a paradox. The key beliefs that help executives succeed can become roadblocks to act on needed change. There are various conscious and unconscious barriers to change. It was the economist John Maynard Keynes who made the valid point that 'the greatest difficulty in the world is not for people to accept new ideas, but to make them forget their old ideas.' Executives can continue to apply energy to a subconscious competing commitment. So what appears to be resistance or inertia is really a personal assumption that keeps people acting in a certain way. Uncovering these assumptions can unlock and release the ability to change and innovate.

    Executives in corporations hold fast to their image of knowing marking it through activity, effort and achievement. Even though they work under the ever-present pressure to have answers -- and let's face it they are used to giving answers -- they should resist the temptation. The reality of today's world of business means an executive is often in the realm of not-knowing or no longer being in control of a situation. In essence, they need the capacity to patiently work with uncertainty, half-knowledge, ambiguity and paradox.

     
     
     
    • Derek Walters
    • Project Manager, Private Sector

    Maybe it goes back to hierarchy, self-preservation & gaming. Thinking too well makes bosses look bad and results in more work or "punishment" work. However, when people of lower rank are around, one needs to act elitist and treat lower ranking people as if they're trivial - cute, but irrelevant. One also needs to constantly be in pursuit of the next rung of the career ladder so there's constant gaming going on to look qualified and ready for anything.

    Being in this kind of environment for a long period of time is stifling and results in all of of dysfunctionality; hence the reason for the inability to think deeply - preoccupation with the relative organizational internal dynamics (hierachy, self-preservation, and gaming). Few people are able to think deeply in competitive organizations because of preoccupation with these organizational nuances ("game face" is on).

    If one is not preoccupied with the important aspects of a business and is spending time thinking deeply, then someone else might be preoccupied on those important business aspects and be a threat to the deep thinker's job.

     
     
     
    • David Zinger
    • Owner, David Zinger & Associates

    I will think about the 7 metaphors:

    balance (equilibrium), transformation (changing states or status), journey (as in life), container (keeping things in and keeping things out), connection (feelings of belonging or exclusion), resource (providing survival), control.

     
     
     
    • Ulysses U. Pardey, MBA
    • Managing Director, Am-Tech, S.A., Panama, Rep. of Panama

    Why don't managers think deeply?

    For my comment, a workable definition of thinking in the workplace could be that thinking is learning-with-testing in order to shape the solution of a need.

    The less we know about the need and the feasible solutions, the more we need to learn about it and the various ways to shape a workable and profitable solution. Time-for-thinking is a special moment which can be resource consuming and an unsafe activity as it could mean that we do not know and that therefore we are exploring and hopefully learning, something which can be hazardous in a result-oriented workplace due to the competition for evaluations and career advancements. Seeing-today-what-is-not can be very rewarding or frustrating and the lack of understanding and support from the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and other people within the company can be for sure a dissuasive argument against non-sponsored and open-to-attack innovation endeavors. This could be one of the reasons why time-for-thinking must be a protected, tangible and materialized complementary activity to the "daily business operations".

    Therefore it is highly possible and certainly convenient that we managers have our own in-company-laboratory-for-thinking purposes in order to favor people-and-profit growth and be-safe.

    It is wonderful, exceptionally welcomed and a great example to follow as a best-practice of management for any company regardless of its size and place, that a highly successful and esteemed boss sponsors and protects thinking, even deep thinking as a job-and-company-commitment.

    Thinking is something we are not necessarily properly trained for. It might be taken for granted and there is documented evidence it should not. Rather often, education-solutions are more a memory-game (the act of remembering ways of remembering things, a good thing easy to measure for grades purposes?) than a solution through which students are taught and learn how to learn (a great thing less easy to measure for grades purposes?).

    Is learning-with-testing more demanding than mechanically-repeating-to-memorize? How similar and different are thinking and mechanically-repeating-to-memorize? Therefore what kind of employees, managers and leaders does a memory-game education "manufacture"? It is also true that the one who forgets does not learn. I believe that truthful answers could favor people-and-profit growth for business purposes.

    The above could be some of the reasons why managers tend to outsource the deep thinking and even thinking with out-of-the-company specialists. Furthermore, it is like an understandable self-defense behavior to take this risk out of the desk when risk-taking is not sponsored and it is without protection. The lesson is that you can not take risks on your own without the right sponsoring and protection. Risk? Yes, but anyhow?

    Thinking in a workplace must not be an either-make-or-break outcome for evaluation and career advancement.

    We might have to accept that education for the vast majority of people, and therefore employees, will not improve all of a sudden. It is then up to the leaders of companies to sponsor and develop this attitude toward thinking-as-a-job-and-company-commitment depending upon the nature of the job to do, so that it becomes an accepted, affordable, praised and cared for standard way of working.

    Quality and quantity are not substitutes of each other.

    However, they complement each other superbly and we should experiment this from childhood. I believe it will show in the workplace. In a workplace, quality and quantity should be what they are -complements- and both of them highly esteemed kinds of job and mirrored as such in the metrics. I believe that this will favor good in-company relationships substantially. We should admit that we are not necessarily good at everything and that every individual contribution which favors the general purpose of the company should be fairly valued and accepted.

    Job description for chain of command purposes should be an accurate workable assortment of quality-and-quantity contribution-and-commitment depending upon the nature of the job to do.

    I believe that business leaders, academia and society can indeed favor this sponsored and cared for kind of thinking in the workplaces for people-and-profit growth and the benefit of all .... and fortunately someone has started promisingly to show and lead the way. Best wishes.

     
     
     
    • CJ Cullinane

    I believe the lack of 'Deep Thinking' is tied hand in hand to the lack of time at all levels of our society. In business there is constant pressure to get a new product to market. This starts at design and continues to marketing.

    At a personal/employee level there is seldom only one project at a time to work on. There is pressure on all the separate projects to be finished ahead of schedule. We talk of 'multi-tasking', and we all do it to a point, but does this allow for in-depth study of a problem or allow us to try innovative alternatives?

    I think the Zaltmans have hit on a basic problem, and it seems to be growing. Cost cutting and deep thinking seem at odds in a down economy, but solid deep thinking, innovation, and analysis are probably what is needed. Companies have to focus more, concentrate on specific tasks and then execute them correctly. Quantity may not be as important as quality when it come to 'thinking'.

    As for myself, I believe that to simplify and focus helps. Maybe it is time to bring out Ockhams Razor, and sharpen it up a bit.

    Charlie Cullinane

     
     
     
    • Sameer Kamat

    As a business grows from a struggling startup to a mature organization, the role played by various people in it changes as well. In the early stages, when formal systems for decision making have not been institutionalized, the founder/CEO invariably ends up taking most of the key decisions. The founder provides his/her employees with the vision, the direction, the management support and healthy doses of motivation during coffee breaks.

    Borrowing from the deep metaphor terminology proposed by the Zaltmans, this might be termed as the transformation and resource phase. Though it can be a tumultuous journey for the team, the objectives are better aligned across the board. The real challenge is when the stakeholders, internal and external, increase over time and conflicts of interest start arising. Employees want stability, bosses want results, investors in the company want rapid growth, customers want delivery as per specifications, regulators want an adherence to rules, suppliers want their payment on time, the list can go on.

    In established organizations, survival stops being the primary objective. Roles and responsibilities get defined for those in technical roles, administrative roles, management roles etc. Almost every conceivable activity, ranging from leave applications to recycling paper, gets painstakingly documented. This is the organization's way of keeping a tab on the unwieldiness that comes with size and also a way to reduce potential conflicts of interest. The Zaltmans would probably characterize this as balance/container/connection situation.

    Vision and leadership are undeniably important in both these phases.

    But in the latter scenario, managers get sandwiched between their multi-tasking and multi-stakeholder-balancing mandates and find it safer to 'balance' than to 'transform'. The rewards are less, which also means that the heartburn and risks of adopting this approach are less too. In this age of hire-and-fire, deep-thinking for managers and most employees may seldom go beyond innovative ways to ensure job stability and a steady income. And in the restrictive corporate environments where conformity is rewarded more than risking failure, no wonder the few managers who dare to innovate and the companies that give them the free space and liberty to do so, get talked about. Many organizations are trying to re-create the startup kind of environment to trigger the spirit of innovation. Hope we get to hear more success stories from them.

     
     
     
    • Bill Welter
    • Managing Director, Adaptive Strategies, Inc

    The "obvious" task of managers is to sense changes in the environment, make sense of those changes, decide on a course of action and then act on that decision. This seems very straightforward at the rational level. However, human emotions and organizational cultures make this obvious task anything but easy. Thinking is NOT easy and it takes time and courage.

     
     
     
    • Richard Guha
    • Partner, Max Brand Equity

    "Form follows function." Managers tend to do that which is well rewarded, and in virtually all corporations, deep thought, introspection, questioning the status quo, or taking risks are not rewarded, and often punished. So most large corporations prosper through scale and size until they collapse or are acquired. The successful manager has prospered by being a good fit to the culture rather than an innovator and change agent. Perhaps even greater management education actually hurts this as many managers focus on the familiar rather than challenge the existing order.

    So large corporations leave behind the kind of thinking which created them. A senior executive in a large corporation has enormous resources and market position, so the mere fact that any such business suffers reverses is an indictment of its ability to adapt and change to meet circumstances.

     
     
     
    • Lorre Zuppan
    • President, branes, LLC

    I agree with Sameer that many forces of human nature and the organization work against exercising deep thinking. Although we may know intellectually that deep thinking is a good thing to do, studies show that when faced with choices, we typically put off what's good in the long run for what is rewarding now.

    Then there is Charlie's point: deep thinking takes time and focus when we often feel there is little room for such luxuries. And the reward for results? The more work he speaks of: change management.

    As Dianne notes, once deep thinking bears the fruit of something worth sharing and changing for, we have much still to do to assure its adoption. No one can wave a magic wand, and executives at every level have constiuents likely to be risk averse and reluctant to change - as Sameer notes. It's no wonder ideas are often met with resistance and skepticism.

    The Zaltmans may be on to something, but is it that organizations and the individuals in them reflect human nature? As most inventors will tell you, it's not just the great idea, it's also having the courage and savvy to get something done about it. Otherwise it's been a learning experience or waste of time.

    I think Jeff Immelt's efforts to protect deep thinking reflect a nice sentiment, but it will take more to have a real impact. If his team could carry the ball, would he need to announce that he's protecting it? A ball that large is easy to puncture.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    I wonder if the accelerated pace of our electronic world today is having an impact on the way that we work. Certainly, it is in obvious ways but perhaps it also is in some subtle ways.

    For instance, I notice (now more than ever) that there is an expectation that decisions be made quickly, regardless of their importance. There never seems to be time to just stop and think about the impact of a decision. A number of times lately I've been driven to say, "Whoa! Where's the fire? Let's take some time to think about this."

    Could it be too that what we are looking for in leaders these days is the antithesis to the 'deep thinker' quality? We want leaders who look decisive, confident and who won't back down. Taking the time to think could be viewed as vascillation by some. When you're doing your hiring, are you most impressed by the assertive candidate with the snappy, confident retort? I'm guessing that the quiet, contemplative thinker might not seem like the most likely candidate for charismatic leader.

     
     
     
    • David Wittenberg
    • CEO, The Innovation Workgroup

    About 1/4 of Americans prefer to gather information through the imagination rather than the senses. These abstract "intuitives" are thinkers by nature. A further 1/4 of these are are introverts, meaning that they are comfortable being alone and focusing inward. These tend to be the "deep thinkers" to whom reflection and thorough analysis come naturally.

    In business, as some have said here, the pressure to deliver results quickly militates against deep thought. It is incumbent on business leaders to establish structures and policies to encourage and reward the kind of study and analysis that can lead to original, breakthrough ideas. Bravo to Jeff Immelt!

     
     
     
    • C. Michael Simone
    • VP Global Technology, Media

    I think that this raises a alarming issue, we are focused on the here and now without regard for the deeper thought. The history behind this has been etched in business due to the obsession with the short term returns. Now we are involved in more and more complex situations and can not adequately address them without deep thinking. We need to get away from the mantra that we are acting in a "too academic" fashion and embrace the fact that we live in a more and more complex eco-system that requires deep thought and long term vision.

     
     
     
    • David E C Huggins
    • President, Andros Consultants Limited

    There's a great deal of merit in the original question, the Zaltman approach and also in the many insightful comments above, however I wonder if the real issue here isn't more fundamental. It seems to me that we can teach people how to read, write and do arithmetic very well, but we rarely, if ever teach them how to think. The issue is 'skirted' throughout the educational process in most societies but not usually taken 'head-on'.

    Whenever I explain the simple relationships between 'linear', 'lateral', 'strategic', 'incubative' and 'integrative' thinking techniques to established business leaders and managers it is as though the majority are hearing this for the first time. 'Thinking', as one executive suggested to me, 'is like walking and breathing - I do it all the time but I'm not consciously aware of it.'

    Conscious thought processes are inefficient, it's true, but they are the gateway to all other forms. If we cannot control our use of this basic tool - conscious thought - how can we be expected to take it deeper?

    Great thinkers in the past have usually been the product of well structured regimens in academia. Natural thinkers are few and far between. The majority of us labour long and hard somewhere between these two extremes, seemingly unaware of our unsatisfactory condition.

    The powerful device of narrative has many productive pathways to improved thinking competencies - the simple art of the story - but it rarely survives our early childhood as a deliberate teaching device.

    Perhaps we need to rethink thinking about thinking?

     
     
     
    • Shaun Dakin
    • CEO, The National Political Do Not Contact Registry

    People fear change.

    Deep thinking requires people to change. Change how they were raised, schooled and how they "manage" their family life.

    I remember an early boss of mine tell me two things:

    • What interests your boss, fascinates you.

    • When someone tells you that you are being brought in as a change agent, watch you back. You are more than likely being asked to do what they will not do and then you will be made the scapegoat when things go wrong.

    My other observation is that mature and large companies hire "managers" who manage the quarter and bring in consultants to do the "deep thinking".

    Time and time again in my career Sr. Management would more likely listen to a "new" idea coming from the consultant du jour than the Harvard MBA they recently hired at some astronomical salary.

    I decided to break free.

    So, now, if it is to be, it is up to me.

    Shaun Dakin CEO and Founder The National Political Do Not Contact Registry StopPoliticalCalls.org

     
     
     
    • Paul Ampadu-Yeboah
    • Resident Representative, Enterprise Insurance Co. Ltd

    Managers do not think deeply because largely companies and organisations have over the years developed systems and procedures that make managers enjoy the status quo and for fear of failure will not want to venture into the abstract and bring in new ideas that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound.

    Therefore these organisations are growing managers instead of leaders; this is what is currently partaining which is not making managers think.

     
     
     
    • John Roberts
    • Principal, www.bigidea.cc

    One of the unstated themes in the many great comments so far is that the action-orientation or decisiveness that it takes to lead turns into a habit that pre-empts the kind of thinking that the Zaltmans seem to be talking about.

    One of the tactics that belongs in ongoing leadership development is how to set a high priority on issues or opportunities, but deliberately not acting on them. Not acting becomes a conscious pre-requisite for thinking about them.

    It wouldn't be too hard to think of meaningful activities that prepare one, or a team, by seeding thinking. These could be done while "not acting."

     
     
     
    • Marco Santori
    • Principal, Eirecon Associates USA

    I think Mr. Kirk, with the leadoff comment, is very much correct; the journey through middle management suffocates and penalizes deep thinking and creativity. Those who reach top level management have succeeded because they know how to work for others and how to manage within the prevailing corporate culture. Rarely are they rewarded for "deep thought" because they have never experienced it.

    I would only add one further observation from many years within a large organization. It is not simply the organizational heirarchy that restricts deep thought; the typical peer group of middle managers within big companies is a very powerful limiting factor. Peers have an incredible power to stifle deep thought by applying subconcious pressure in the internal social/political environment. It is like high school but on a more sophisticated level.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    I cannot speak for other cultures. But I believe that in American culture, "deep thinking" is disdained. "Intellectuals" are treated with contempt (some of it, admittedly, deserved). A "bias for action" is a trait specifically identified by many companies in their job postings, performance reviews, etc. When is "deep thinking" so identified? Why would any manager level person -- who cared about his/her career -- want to be identified as a "deep thinker"? That's a death wish. Problem solver, yes. Quick decision maker, yes. Bias for action, yes. Deep thinking???? NO.

     
     
     
    • Tom Henkel
    • President, Baiting Brook Research, Inc.

    There's a name for managers who think deeply -- entrepreneurs.

    While many companies claim to encourage innovative thinking, the sad reality is being viewed by management as a "loyal soldier" is often a more highly valued trait. The deep thinker can be punished for having deep thoughts -- labeled a "trouble maker" for bucking the status quo, or simply ignored. Conversely, the middle manger who enthusiastically supports the boss' ideas (however moronic) usually gets the big promotion.

    Big companies are no place for big thinkers. It's often easier (and more financially rewarding) to break away and implement new ideas away from the short-term, hierarchical mindset that so often dooms new ideas to failure in big companies.

     
     
     
    • Fatmanur Erdogan
    • Head of Corporate Communications, BSH Bosch and Siemens Home Appliances

    I agree with Sameer and Adnan.

    The dynamics of an organization play an important role in how we think and act in it. The bigger a company gets, the more conservative it becomes. Simply because it happens to have more to lose. So, protective behavior dominates. This means that risk-taking is not encouraged in such organizations.

    In start ups or medium sized companies, the scenario changes: risk taking is naturally embraced. People who are brave, deep-thinking, risk-taking and bold usually end up leaving such big-sized companies for a reason! Big companies are then left with the "talented ones that fit their culture". These are the ones who enjoy the status quo, and will only challenge the way they work only when the top management asks them to do so.

     
     
     
    • Adam Hartung
    • Managing Partner, Spark Partners

    "Deep" or "insightful" thinking requires moving beyond the activities and structures within which we manage. We cannot move beyond these Lock-ins unless we are willing to Disrupt ourselves, and that won't happen unless we're given Permission to do so.

    Immelt's statement is a high-level effort to provide Permission, but itself is not sufficient. Real Permission is given only when people in authority specifically grant permission to violate existing Lock-in behaviors, norms and structures. Below Chairman Immelt leaders must provide this permission to violate old rules (explicit or implicit rules) or new insights will not be forthcoming.

    Further, new "deep thoughts" can only happen if the resources are granted to explore what "could be" beyond the Disruption and old Lock-ins. Unless leadership specifically dedicates these resources, in advance, to the exploration of White Space we cannot expect to develop new approaches and solutions.

    Until we become more adept at providing Permission to violate Lock-ins and resource White Space work we're not likely to get much beyond enhancements and "more of the same."

     
     
     
    • Roger Dennis

    This article poses some great questions.

    My main takeaway - most managers are incentivised by operational goals and think that 'deep thinking' is done by the strategy team (if at all).

    However the style in which this 'conversation' is encouraged begs an even bigger question - if you are serious about starting an online conversation the why doesn't 'Working Knowledge' allow the posting of trackbacks to blogs?

     
     
     
    • David Hansen
    • Executive Director, Organizational Innovation and Learning, Babbage Simmel

    The question should be,... "Why would managers think deeply?" Managers are by definition, problem solvers and Leaders are by definition problem finders. Problem solving is fundamentally convergent (the "Closed Systems" theory of Von Bertalanfy's General Systems Model) and finding is fundamentally divergent (the "Open Systems" theory of GSM). Leaders find and frame agendas and managers resolve them. As Herbert Simon so clearly pointed out, science and engineering in this country would be greatly enhanced by teaching problem finding. Unfortunately, efforts to that end over the past 30-40 years have encountered challenging obstacles from the technical culture itself. The "In-box" exercise demonstrates how difficult it is to find managers with agenda-setting capacity.

     
     
     
    • Rob Smorfitt
    • Consultant

    In South Africa our education systems are not geared to creating a thinking person. Even the much hailed OBE system has seen very little change in this regard. Teachers still do not appreciate children in their class challenging and asking questions. Students at universities never challenge lecturers nor do they engage them in debate.

    I also think that the MBA does not teach these nor problem solving skills, nor do any of the typical business degrees. While it may be natural to some, for others it needs to be learned.

    Then there is the question of time. Few people in business appear to have the time to think. The business environment is extremely reactive, particularly as you drop further down into the functional/operational part of the business.

    The luxury of thinking time is seldom there, nor do opportunities arise for discussion and debate ouside of the corporate "issues of the day".

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Creativity is not a business thing, it is a human thing. When I was teaching, I encouraged my students to do at least one creative new thing per week unrelated to the class and to present it to the class, explaining their creative process, why they chose it, and why it was new to them. Creativity is a skill that transfers from one arena to another. Creativity outside the classroom (or boardroom) can and should transfer in. If society doesn't value creativity (provides "bread and circuses" instead of allowing challenges), why should anyone be surprised that the lack of creativity translates to the business world? There is a plethorasmum of creativity out there... somewhere. Let's hope it enters the business world.

     
     
     
    • Larry H.
    • FWC, Inc

    I believe this is a very simple question because managers are not visionaries. A manager's task is to simply marry themselves to the vision and mission of the corporation and see that it is carried out in a manner keeping with the values of the company.

    Once a manager has his own vision, he should start his own corporation because his worth as a productive manager to that company is no longer of any value because he now has a new vision which he will begin propagating soon enough.

    CEO's are not interested in having managers who are not there to help them fulfill their visions. They are looking for managers that are excited about their visions.

     
     
     
    • Chris Shannon
    • Manager, University of Queensland

    The greatest constraint on thinking is time. Managers learn that success is judged on meeting deadlines and sticking to budgets and so that is what they do. There is not time for anything else other than an annual one or two day retreat. When one does carve out some time to think the process of thinking looks a lot like not working so it is not something one is inclined to do in the office. Also, the process of thinking is 'lumpy', with bursts of insight coming from periods of cogitation. Even worse, I think creatively better out of the office, say while out in the boat or at a conference, so that looks very much like not working!! In short, it is not aligned to short term objectives, is not always timely and does not look like work.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    The system rewards "quick fix" solutions (until the next crisis) and discourages long term solutions. After all, senior management is accountable to the Board. By the time the flaws inherent in a short term solution become obvious, either the quick fixer or the Board membership will have moved on. Or, in the Sufi parable, "Maybe the horse will learn to sing".

     
     
     
    • Peggy Coonley
    • President, Serendipity Traveler

    From kindergarten forward deep thinking is not encouraged, there is only one right answer in most classes and creative thinking is thwarted from the start. One must color within the lines and all turkeys must be colored brown. There are no purple turkeys. Risk taking, laughter and diverse thought is discouraged in most classrooms across America.

    Unless you know the answer you probably don't risk answering the question lest you be made fun of. Einstein is my hero for education with his belief that "imagination is more important than knowledge......." until we earnestly begin nurturing the imagination of humankind through arts education and the omission of standardized testing i am afraid that deep thinkers will remain in the minority and be known as entrepenuers.

     
     
     
    • Kaushal Dubey
    • Sales Officer, Mahindra Hinoday Industries Limited

    Two thought processes, organisations are today divided into two: one is at operational level who apply various decisions and others are people who take the decisions. Although levels of involvement may seem to be less or more across the work areas, certain inertia develops. Unless this inertia is challenged it won't go away.

     
     
     
    • Ruby Ann Kagaoan - Calo
    • Marketing Communications Officer

    Good managers encourage creativity. We've gotten so technology-oriented, even at preschool level. The result is that we have a modern workforce that is driven by the "now" and the "urgent." Fortunate are those companies that can recruit and retain creative and deep thinkers, for theirs will be the future of the world and new markets.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    As per my experience there are two main reasons that todays managers are not thinking deeply. 1. The lack of empowerment from the top level and fearness to implement the idea and incentives being given to them 2. The lack of such invirnment to appriciate such work, people are here task oriented rather than process/ out of box thinking mode.

     
     
     
    • Catherine Gardner-Gaskin
    • CEO, marketing that works

    In the past managers have had staff to assist with many of the tasks they are now expected to undertake i.e. correspondence, travel arrangements, OH & S. Many of the managers I work with seem to be spending a higher proportion of their time managing and not getting or allocating the time they need to do strategic thinking. So day to day tasks are taking over which allows them little time to be able to be strategic or think deeply.

    The "junkets"of the 80's and 90's have given planning and thinking days a bad name and many people do not use them wisely or perceive them as a waste of time. Some basic theories and frameworks also seem to be missing when planning sessions are undertaken. With no systematic approaches to a problem, researching the background, looking at the current state and then what the future state should be.

    Two other trends; a lack of testing of ideas. Test marketing, brainstorming and research. Secondly the swiftness to criticise rather than analyse and improve upon a plan that has been presented. We have multitudes of experts on everything, everyone has an opinion - but do they have ideas?

     
     
     
    • Akhil Mehta
    • www.akhilmehta.blogspot.com

    A lot of interesting questions arise here in this situation. The foremost point here is whether the organizations of today provide enough leeway to their managers to do deep thinking and implement it, while being put under constant pressure to meet the analyst's quarterly profit projections? The society as a whole is guilty of demanding instant gratification and then damning the fast foods of the world!

    Also important here is the issue of organizational politics. You could nurture innovative thinking only when you recognize the efforts of its author, and I mean efforts and not just the results. To expect deep thinking in an environment where it gets expropriated by a senior or worse still is simply killed by a threatened boss, would be foolhardy. It surely would require an enabling environment.

    A great way of motivating deep thinking would be to make the thinkers, partners in the success of the thought process. The big question however is how many of the organizations are ready for that???

     
     
     
    • Rahal Jayawardene
    • Head of Security Business, Milennium Information Technologies Ltd

    What is "Deep Thinking"? Is it meant to make a manager more effective rather than efficient? Or is it meant to inflict change in the organization? Or is it meant to produce insights that will change the course of the entire organization?

    Can we really generalize the term "Deep Thinking"? The real sense of "Deep Thinking" to a manager depends largely on the expectations of the organization and its culture.

    In a conservative organization, "Deep Thinking" can be attributed to being effective, to produce more results with less effort, which cannot be achieved through improving efficiency. On the other hand, ""Deep Thinking" in an organization which fosters "Change", it can be attributed to innovation.

    The possession or lack of "Deep Thinking" in managers can be largely attributed to the organization's reward system and the culture. The organizations reward system plays a vital role in identifying, measuring and rewarding the results of "Deep Thinking". The culture of the organization motivates managers to think deep by fostering openness, equity and by inhibiting bureaucracy. A learning culture acts as a catalyst in fostering "Deep Thinking" and innovation in the organization.

    Can any manager "Deep Think"? Why should a manager "Deep Think" if the results are not recognized and rewarded? It is imperative for organization to develop managers to "Deep Think" and reward them for the results.

    After all "Thinking Deep" to differentiate or "Innovate" to produce unprecedented results, is a science today that can be taught and learned.

     
     
     
    • Krishna Sripad
    • Project Manager

    One common refrain that seems to come through strongly in the article as well as the subsequent conversation is the almost self-defeating nature of expecting transformational engagement from managers, when organizational priorities often linger in the short to mid terms, or otherwise, on operational productivity.

    Ops productivity is a not always welcome guest who's never going to go away from organizational strategy, especially in a global market thats blurring boundaries in competitive advantage and changing the rules of the game on a day-to-day basis.

    On the other hand, the need for long term transformational approaches are equally vital to a truly growth oriented organization. Be the rule maker rather than just a player on the field. In effect, deep thought is the much wanted visitor who's getting nudged out of the table.

    The key, in my opinion is to:

    1) Foster an environment where transformation is "truly" valued and not just another company keyword

    2) Publicize key transformational accomplishments even if short-term

    3) Create "Change Heroes" who will provide the necessary motive force

    4) Set a benchmark for measuring the rewards of deep thought to the organization and finally

    5) Institutionalize it as a culture by giving employees and managers the bandwidth to publish and drive their transformational ideas - for example, setting aside a percentage of employee time as some companies already do.

    Employees need to feel that they can truly be agents of innovation/transformation contributing to the growing organization, rather than sporadic instances of weak initiatives. As Hemanshu mentions above, innovation as an obligatory accountaility (the sword metaphor) would almost certainly be prone to failure., vis-a-vis innovation as an open culture that could surface many breakthrough ideas.

     
     
     
    • Sandesh N Shringarpure
    • Finance Analyst

    It's good to see that we are looking for reasonable long term scenarios in today's era which can be termed as 'fast-track" , where in the people who are the ultimate decision makers think for very short term may be 2-3 years. This can be seen very clearly by trends in rotation of top executives.

    The aspiring candidate for top executive position has to perform a balancing act between " "Long term organization benefits and self realization" on one hand and " Aligning superiors "perceived goals and self capitalization" on other hand.

    It goes to individual characters whether self realization or capitalization. In latter case it is quite difficult to expect " Deep thinking as perceived".

    Person who is sets for "self realization" does act where in he tries to chart the course of actions leading to best possible out come for organization. However, the same is also directly related to his determination, courage to face the outcome (may not be as though for as there may not be a tested course of action), persuasion skills and last but vital organizational environment - consisting of recognition criterion, monetary awards, growth plans, cross functional interactions etc. There are certain limiting factors in organization environment like departmentalization, lack of 3 tier appraisals, lack of innovativeness, financial capabilities, etc.

    Also, age, financial condition, family responsibilities etc. also play their vital role in building individual character and the role it plays.

     
     
     
    • Sarshar Ahmed
    • Logistics Manager, Alcatel Lucent, Pakistan

    Deep thinking requires a sense of owner ship and control over the affairs. One thinks deep of its family because of the deep sentiments and the power of implementation being head of family. The managers hired by companies for short term contract are work-execute personnel. They hardly think on long term basis for the company mainly because:

    A lot of effort is required to sell the new thought / idea to the higher management.

    Working on the new idea will change a manager's own direction and attention towards assigned tasks.

    The manager will not be there to get any benefit that the company might earn in long term due to deep thinking by him.

    The new HR model in the companies. The stress on head count, quantum of work due to reduction of man power, temporary project based employment, frequent retrenchment / lay-offs, less job security are basic reasons for increased turnover, simultaneously this also restrain a manager from deep thinking for the benefit of the company which is not loyal to the employee. Compared to this if we see the employee's turnover rates and company's achievements during 1950 to say 1980 which formed the foundation for our present I.T based take-off; we will find that managers use to spend their life sticking with one employer. Managers were deep thinkers by default. Their deep thinking has given strength to company's integrity and identity. Mergers of the companies were not as frequent as it is now a day.

    The responsibility of deep thinking is presently left with directors /owners of the company who are not involved in the work at manager's level. The changes suggested by Managers are comparatively slow and gradual where as changes advised by directors are more sudden and surprising. However deep thinking by managers has a more advantage to the organization. There is a popular saying " If you make your employees feel like family, they will act like family" I believe we must review our corporate behaviors and try to develop family with each member to deeply think for the betterment, improvement and come up with innovative ideas.

     
     
     
    • Gerald Nanninga
    • VP, Retail Ventures, Inc.

    Businesses are like boats on the ocean. They become preoccupied with all of the constant change and choppiness of the water on the surface. If you get below the surface, however, the water is calm and stable.

    Basic human nature is relatively calm and stable. That is why the Zaltmans can boil it down to just seven metaphors which stand the test of time. Once you can get your mind wrapped around the core essence of what drives humanity, you don't need to relearn it. You just need to apply it.

    If we can just ignore the tyrrany of the immediate (the choppy waters on the surface) and apply the constancy of the waters below, we can catch all the fish we want. Remember, the fish are not at the surface. They are in the calmer, deeper waters.

    So the goal is not necessarily to stay in a deep thinking mode as much as to constantly remember the core basic prinicples that should undergird all decisions and thinking.

    That is where metaphors come in. They help us remember. They help us connect to those deeper truths without having to reinvent the wheel each time there is a problem. And they help us connect to our customers, who can quickly capture the essence of what is being said because they understand the language of metaphors.

    This is why my blog on strategic planning (planninga-from-nanninga.blogspot.com) is written in analogies and metaphors.

     
     
     
    • Nagaraj
    • Asst Gen Manager, State Bank of Mysore

    Who needs such deep thinking? As long as one has to show results within a limited time frame, deep thinking has no place. The positions held today by most people do not even guarantee a term of 3 years. ... Middle level managers do not need to think, let alone think deeply. People get recognized when they master the art of implementing others' ideas, in particular their bosses'. Where is the scope for deep thinking in a business environment? Only research units encourage deep thinking.

     
     
     
    • Erik Holmberg
    • Electronic Delivery Manager

    One word - Culture. Most organizations don't foster a culture that is conducive to deep thinking or even mediocore thinking. The 'value' is placed on effeciency and cost cutting, so bright minds are forced to figure out how they can cut costs rather than propelling the organization into the next realm with great ideas. You get what you reinforce, if deep thinking is what you are looking for then encourage it and foster a culture of thinkers at every level so those who come up through the ranks are already in the mode of deep thinking.

     
     
     
    • Henry Kwok
    • Consultant in Strategic Thinking

    Why don't managers do deep thinking?

    This is a great question. One inference from the various responses is that deep thinking has a place in management. The issue is really one of making it a value proposition to both the organisation and the individual manager.

    For organisations to see the merits of deep insightful thinking, they must recognise the difference between doing things right for expediency and doing the right thing for consistency. This is something I took out of Peter Drucker!

    I am of the belief that anyone who has gone through college education has the capability of thinking - but what is stopping them from thinking more deeply? One can easily put forward many explanations but they all boil down on the culture existing in the organisation and those of the managers.

    One contributing factor that stands out is reductionist thinking that we grew up with. We try to find solution by breaking problems into parts, with the aim of fixing the broken parts. The fallout is that the part that has been fixed may not fit the whole. We are setting ourselves up for unintended consequences as organisations try to find unity through conformity. They would only throw wet blankets on divergent views.

    If they take a more open view, the right thing to do is find unity through diversity. This is a lesson right from nature which has a way of sustaining itself since creation. No organisation has such a long history!

    I have the fortune of once working for such a forward looking organisation that promotes divergent and insightful deep thinking. It took them many years to build such a culture that everyone in the organisation almost lives and breaths this belief in deep thinking.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    "Thinking is very hard work. And management fashions are a wonderful substitute for thinking." -- Peter Drucker

     
     
     
    • Prasad
    • Business Analyst, TCS

    Deep thinking always genetrates new ideas which might be fruitful in the eyes of the management but these new ideas might not appear the same in the eyes of an associate. Apart from that the normal human tendency would be that as long as things are going fine nobody cares much about future events. Even managers think the same way; why worry when today is just fine as yesterday....

     
     
     
    • Edward Hare
    • Retired Director, Planning and Quality, Fortune 250 Mfr.

    There seems an implied belief in many opinions that almost anyyone is capable of "deep thinking" if only they had the time...if only their organizations valued it over the here and now. While I suspect those constraints exist widely, I'm not so sure....

    I believe that "deep thinkers" are rare. Very rare. Who hasn't known an individual that is capable of seeing ordinary things in uncommon ways? Individuals whose antennas receive completely different signals than the rest of us. And who can "connect the dots" to make associations that escape most of us. It's a gift that some people have, many people think they have, and a resource that big companies like GE want to believe they can turn on like an HR spigot of some kind. I make the comparison to that wonderful field of endeavor....engineering.....which is lampooned daily in the comic strip Dilbert. I believe engineers are born with mental wiring, and quirks, that allow them to become engineers. Those without the requisite gifts will be hard-pressed to ever become a competent, let alone innovative, engineer. So too it is with the "deep thinking" crowd. If one isn't born with the gifts it takes then no amount of incenting or cajolling will make someone so.

    Organizations would be much better off to try to understand who their deep thinkers are and then make absolutely certain that they're in a position to take advantage of their rather unique capabilities. Some may be lurking in dark corners as "consultants" who can add enormous value if engaged in the proper way and the appropriate place.

    Wouldn't Warren Buffett be an example of a deep thinker? Could he, would he thrive in a traditional big corporation or organization? Fact is, his gifts may have been put to use in an optimum way....to his benefit as well as the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway.

    I'd submit that there's a shortage of big thinkers....especially in fields like government. There aren't enough to go around and you can't produce them at will. And there are so-o-o many counterfeits. We could use a few busloads of the real deal in Washington as well as our corporations. Too bad that human and social dynamics tend to repel those who might be able to help us the most.

     
     
     
    • Sivakumar Alaguchami
    • Quality Lead & Black Belt, Macmillan India ltd

    Innovation for business and new insights from managers are essential for both start-ups and matured organizations for positioning better in the markets.

    Managers encouraged from leaders for innovating business with positive outlook for the long term goals without cutting corners of their incentives based on the impact of short term results would be more successful. Organization culture has to be mature to improve in this area.

     
     
     
    • Ramesh Jog
    • Consultant and trainer

    First thinking deep is essential as it prepares one to be ready for future. The ability needs to be developed. In human beings thinking is not an isolated skill. It works closely with the skill of seeing and feeling. What you see makes you think and what you feel also makes you think. So if one has to develop skill of thinking deep one must develop the other two skills in similar way.

    Seeing deep is seeing in images and visualizing the future- business scenarios in time line or future state of organization.

    Feeling deep is having a passion for the future state - your own and that of organization.

    One develops these three skills and is ready for the future- for own sake and for the organization too. The passion for the future will drive one to develop the skill. Work place stresses or an excuse that time not available cannot hinder acquiring the skill.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Thinking tends to be a job of a creative person. Managing something needs leadership quality like a dictatorship kind of approach or something else. Where there is no scope of creativity there is no need to think. Managers need to be strong in follow up.

    In today's complex management structure (dotted line reporting) there are certain groups that can produce more in the absence of a manager. I even think a pyramid has to have a broader base. It is hard to find actual performers because most performers want to be managers. Unfortunately, they think a manager's job is to delegate. So it is better they stop thinking that.

    I think managers do think, up to the time they reach the level of manager; then there is no need. Please don't take that personally.

     
     
     
    • Barry Sugarman
    • Researcher, Society for Org. Learning

    Thanks for many wise comments already posted on this question. I thought I might add one but paused for 2nd thoughts, perhaps even a deep thought. Deep thinking often leads to questioning the question and its assumptions. So I ask: Is "deep thinking" the most important defiicit for managers to improve? Perhaps. What else then? How about the practice of thoughtful experimentation? Deep thinking may lie behind good experiments but the thinking that counts most comes in reflecting on what can be learned from the experiment -- whatever its origin.

    Innovating through experiments thoughtfully assessed produces, not just good ideas, but good innovations. (I allude to the knowing-doing gap.)

    I'm all for deep thinking when we can get it but (as many have already noted) it does suffer from serious image problems in our present management culture. Thoughtful experimentation not only avoids those but might actually be a more powerful way to introduce beneficial reforms -- not just good ideas for reform.

     
     
     
    • Samuli Pahkala
    • Middle Manager, http://managerstoolbox.blogspot.com/

    I think the answer is simple and obvious.

    Managers are too busy carrying out their everyday tasks, meeting deadlines and achieving quarterly targets.

    As a result they can't see the forest for the trees, and do not take the time to think deeply.

    I was surprized, searhing this page and the 51 earlier comments, shows that the word busy was not mentioned earlier.

    Personally I try to find time for deep thinking and document it on my blog, I hope more people would do the same http://managerstoolbox.blogspot.com/

     
     
     
    • Henry A. McKelvey
    • DMTS, Verizon

    This is a well-written and presented article. The problem often is that for one to "Think Deeply" one must first be able to have deep thoughts. The modern business world actually punishes persons for doing just that. The goal is often to be liked, fit in, and buy in not to express individuality, not to be a forward thinker. This mode of activity often produces persons who just get the job done without knowing and or caring why.

    Things can change, but it would take a fundamental change in how corporate America thinks and responds to Deep Thinkers, but for now the status quo remains to be: Yes men are rewarded for their lack of "deep thought" while deep thinkers are punished for thinking deeply. This is as stated the status quo, I for one have seen this numerous times and it has made me reevaluate my place in corporate America. Where I now see that what you know, what you are able to do, and what value you bring to a company means nothing as compared to how far under par you are and how your thinking aligns with the persons in Top Management.

     
     
     
    • Vasudev Das
    • ISKCON of New Jersey/IFAST

    "Why Don't Managers Think Deeply?" This is a thought provoking question which is very relevant to a rapidly globalizing world. We need to think deeply, no doubt. Archimedes and many others were deep thinkers.

    Broadly, there are two sides of this bad coin of not thinking deeply. There are sociological and organismic factors which inhibit managers from thinking deeply. By sociological factors we would be referring to those forces outside of the embodied soul that impinges on him/her and checkmates him/her from thinking deeply; and by organismic factors we would be referring to those forces within the living being that inhibits him/her from thinking deeply. The sociological factors include our educational methodological paradigm, societal needs and interests, attachment to sensory objects, lack of motivational incentives, and artificial life style. The organismic factors include the inability to control the mind and sensory modalities, influence of the gunas, or "modes of material nature" namely, goodness, passion and ignorance; influence of endogenous lust; lack of awareness of our pristine identity; lack of analytical skill; disdain for introspection; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), etc.

    Our educational methodology lays credence mostly to pedagogy as against andragogical approach to learning which focuses on eliciting learners' critical, creative and caring thinking skills or synergic thinking skills. There are multifarious thinking processes of which critical thinking is just one; and thinking is hierarchical. Bahiranga-sakti or the illusory potency of material nature has stolen away the deep thinking ability and capability of more than a few mangers. Creative thinking rooted in deeply supramundane internalization would usher in innovations meant to redirect a misdirected civilization.

    A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak hogwash, the mind's demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals would be the best of deep thinkers, with little personal effort. Such a deeply thinking manager is qualified to train deep thinking mangers all over the global village.

    When we reflect on the lives of ancient and modern great thinkers, one indisputable fact is that their motto apparently seems to be "Simple living and high thinking." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for example, is an intriguing case. And they lived close to nature.

    Of course, graduate programs are being offered in Critical and Creative Thinking (CACT) in some institutions and this is facilitating capacity building in creative thinking skills or/and innovations.

     
     
     
    • E. Forrest Christian
    • Associate, The Manasclerk Company

    No one ever bothered to define, for this page, what "deep thinking" means. The Zaltmans seem to think that "deep thinking" means something like "mental reflecting that gets to our inner feelings". But it could also refer to:

    • thinking about the consequences or results of an action over varying time horizons;
    • reflecting upon the core seeming paradox in a value or purpose at different levels of hiddenness;
    • stepping outside of one's role and adopting another's point of view, to varying degrees of success at predicting others' actions;
    • and a host of other internal mental activities that aren't quite much alike.

    Rectifying names here is probably a good idea, otherwise we're not talking about the same thing.

    Most of the discussion here seems to be "Managers should raise their role up and do work at the next higher thought level" (whatever that is) which will surely disrupt the power balance within the organization. More interesting is the question of "Do we allow our managers to have time for reflection, in whatever way that works out for them and at whatever level they are comfortable with?"

     
     
     
    • J Ben Kirk
    • Principle, Achates Consulting

    I would like to follow up to my lead off response. After reviewing the above comments I feel the need to offer an additional concept that seems to have been missed by some of the readers.

    "Deep thinking" is NOT a necessarily time consuming process. The issue is more complex than time constraints or peer pressure.

    This is an issue of temperament and reward. The reward system reinforces those who "deploy" and not those who are "deep thinkers".

    Hence, those who rise to the top are great at deploying ideas or missions generated from above. We can blame all sorts of things from peers right on up to society. But the issue is not who's to blame but what temperament is drawn to the management world being studied.

    Years ago I spent a few thousand dollars for intense aptitude testing...one of their comments was: You generate too many ideas to be successful in a management culture.

    They indicated that those who score very high in idea production make exceptionally bad mid level managers and therefore never make it to the top.

    However, they said that such a profile was perfect for the top position...lol... A decidedly mixed blessing!

    I've enjoyed all the comments and I appreciate that this study was produced. Challenges are ahead for corporations as the meta-environment changes.

     
     
     
    • Kamal Gupta
    • CEO, Delta Petro

    Do managers get the time to think deeply? Very very rarely. Fifteen years back, i worked for a company where the CEO insisted that managers must have five hours spare time at work - with phone and computer switched off - just to think deeply.

    We implemented it. We got some very creative and excellent ideas and plans as a result. And we institutionalized this practice.

    I rose from there to be CEO, and everywhere i have worked, i have implemented this practice. Believe me, it pays.

     
     
     
    • Shailesh Naik
    • Head - e choupal, ITC ltd

    I disagree that managers don't think. The problem is managers think too much.

    The pressure to succeed all time has made manager to think ten time before taking action. The greatest innovations have come when people follow their heart and not mind . The passion to achieve and create new things is more important then saying "Innovation is required for long term success."

    I believe the greatest pressure is being created by academicans by bring out new theory of success each time around. We need to be paitent and allow new products and idea to fail (sayng 4 out 5 products fails because of lacking of thinking is not correct analysis : Edison is live example ...)

    Hope academicians allow managers to fail more - for the long term success of the economy ...

     
     
     
    • Naveen

    There are three questions asked in this article:

    (1) Why so much publicity? (2) Isn't "deep thinking" what leaders are paid to do? and (3) Why do these kinds of effort require so much protection?

    Let us take one at a time.

    (1) Why so much publicity? I think the reason is because it came from a CEO of a large company. Imagine, this statement coming from a normal employee.He would be percieved dangerous, to say the least. His employment with that company is certainly jeopardized.

    (2)Isn't "deep thinking" what leaders are paid to do? No. Its a strategic investment for the perpetuation of certainity and reduction of ambiguity. They could also be paid for so called crisis management. But then, a fact usually overlooked is change can be incremental, if not a breakthrough. Moreover, history is replete with instances of deep thinkers working in advisory roles, rather than in ruling roles.So, deep thinking comes as an advice, usually, which might or might not be implemented. So deep thinking has to be relevant. This relevance once again, though important, is a constraint to developing deeper insights.

    (3) Why do these kinds of effort require so much protection? Some may claim the answer lies in Maslow's heirarchy. Unless the basic needs of an individual are taken care of, he does not work towards self realisation. The individual cannot relate to the big picture, when so many "basic" needs are in demand. But the understanding of "basic" is flawed. We do hear a lot of time-"thinking maketh a man".He takes this thinking for granted, a compromise to cater to other emotional needs.

    We also hear quite a few times--"actions speak louder than words".

    But when a person acts,he acts out of his trained mindset. The fluidity of this mindset is different for different people, based on his emotional makeup/support system. So we see that this once again falls in the paradigm of a balance. How much of this is the person willing to gamble is what makes that person. The adage of think longterm, act shortterm, might not always be right for everyone, just the way not every person who puts money in the stock market is same. So the risk appetite varies. Hence we need proper hedging.

     
     
     
    • Barry
    • Business Owner

    The Zaltmans need to expand the scope of their question beyond the effort to frame it as 'why'. As someone who has advised C-level executives of some of America's most successful companies, the issue most often isn't why. The issue is that most in management do not have the basic tools required for contemplative thought, self-awareness or creativity needed to innovate.

    The issue should be reframed. The role of a successful manager is to create an environment of 'civil disobedience'. Or more appropriately put, to create an environment of empowerment. The source of great ideas lies within all people within an organization. Creating an open culture of 'questioning' and challenging the status quo is what managers need to do. To allow new ideas to bubble up without fear that those showing creativity are a challenge to their success. That is a very uncommon management trait.

     
     
     
    • Gregory Bownik
    • Teaching Partner, Bethel University

    Why don't managers think deeply?

    I think Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries and Danny Miller provide a good example of why in their book entitled, "Unstable at the top: Inside the troubled organization." The book describes several dysfunctional organizations and one that stands out is the compulsive organization where the culture is "rigid, inward directed, and insular; subordinates are submissive, uncreative, and insecure." In addition, executives in the compulsive organization "tend to dominate [the] organization from top to bottom; insist that others conform to tightly prescribed procedures and rules;." These executives are often perfectionists who are "obsessed with detail, routine, rituals, and efficiency."

    In my experience, this describes the operations of most back-office processing centers. And the goal of the manager is to get the work processed and moved on as fast as possible without any creativity or innovation applied on their part. Unfortunately, this turns the workforce of these organization into automatons who adopt perfectionism as a survival strategy. As they are promoted into management, they maintain their survival habits and continue to support upper management by complying with their rigidly enforced rules and procedures. Consequently, the cycle of shallow thinking is perpetuated.

    I think effective leadership is needed to solve the problems found in the compulsive organization. If not, this type of work will continue to be digitized through technology until no human input is required. Senior level executives need to understand that globalization is transforming the workplace and if the creativity of their management teams are not hernessed they will find themselves competing against disruptive innovators who will find a way to perform the same tasks better, faster, and cheaper.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Why don't managers think deeply? Because they are too comfortable.

     
     
     
    • Kapil Sopory
    • Company Secretary, SMEC (India) Private Limited

    A manager is constantly concerned about his " success" in the organisation as this means better rewards and quick rise to higher positions. As far as these goals go, he thinks deeply and works therefor. As innovation and deep thinking are nowhere in his Position Description and the boss is very satisfied if the subject achieves short-term results within the deadlines fixed, deep thinking takes a backstage and is considered something superfluous.

    Generally the top management does not appreciate people who spend time on suggesting changes/improvements as the implementation would mean challenging the status quo which is making the work flow hindrance free. What follows is that the deep thinker is considered a black sheep and is shunned. At times, the idea may be appreciated to show that the organisation welcomes novel ideas but in reality the credit for it is taken by the higher level as if this had emanated at that level. Resultantly, deep thinker is compelled to stifle his deep thinking skill and toe the dotted line in order to continue existence. Instances of people quitting because of the cold attitude of the management are there but not many.

    Some good organisations do have specific "think tanks" at planning (corporate) levels but those at the operational (eg. project) levels are virtually debarred from deep thinking.

    The world has progressed because there have been deep thinkers. People who fear change are a drain and sooner or later corporates would have to learn this and value deep thinking for operational clarity and long term holistic improvement.

     
     
     
    • Venky Srinivasan
    • GM, Leading Auto Major

    Interesting and thought provoking topic. Thinking demands time for better problem/opportunity definition, validation of factors/causes, hypothesis testing before it can be implemented. Short term pressures drive short sighted thinking. It is important to identify patterns around issues or opportunities and encourage teams to structure these patterns in a manner that can drive an meaningful outcome. The key is to ensure meaningful and manageable outcomes.

     
     
     
    • Rob Neilley
    • Editor, Injection Molding Magazine

    Shallow thinking is the norm in today's American culture, as made obvious by the political campaigns and media coverage thereof. Naturally it follows that business is done the same way. The emphasis is on speed and it is rewarded. In addition, top managers don't want to get into the details, which is where deep thinking is required.

     
     
     
    • Matthew Kidder
    • President, Kidder Roofing

    To think deeply is to challenge one's basic assumptions and yet to communicate is to build a unity based on basic assumptions. There is a social anxiety that drives our social intellect towards unison. This is a basic human driver that is specific to our species as much as visual imprinting of a mother's stripes in zebras is a social social driver that unites their herd. Our anxiety for discord brings us from anarchy to unity. It is unity that is the basis of our communication. Standardization is a form of unity that we use to direct forms of communication. Logically stated, communication is standardization.

    In opposition, thinking deeply challenges the standards of communcation by challenging organizations to act differently. After all, thinking without action is not a reality that is worthy of business discussion as it has no consequence. So logically reframing ourselves again, changing a group's actions is the intent of deep thinking.

    Based on the premises that 1) a group's actions are directed by basic synergies that have foundation and purpose in communication and action and 2) To think deeply is to challenge those synergies by directing group action that is against established social infrastructure, thus in conclusion, resistance to change will arise out of both limitations in individual communication abilities as well as limitations to individual performance abilities.

    In other words, those who cannot perform and those who cannot communicate will be thorns in every manager's side that must be dealt with by building individual competence in both performance and communication. Changing synergies in communication will require a new basis (remembering zebra stripes) that must be delivered and sold by management through a systematic change of reward systems. This is old knowledge documented in the Art of War that the army with the most consistent forms of reward and punishment will have advantage.

    Reward and punishment can only be consistent if an organization is sustainable. So the full circle answer is to develop sustainability over short term gains, which is something that I doubt Wall Street is ready for because investors demand gains over sustainability. As of now, our current economic system has produced a majority of products and businesses that follow the traditional business lifecycle, i.e., new growth markets develop into core business which declines to markets that firms eventually divest themselves in. There has yet to be a sustainable form of business that is in effect today, or at least I am unaware as to its existence. Without sustainability we will always ebb and flow in our ability to think, act, and communicate deeply.

     
     
     
    • Phil Clark
    • Clark & Associates

    We don't need permission and quit making excuses. Deep thinking can be done by anyone anywhere and we don't need permission. Where this can become painful is when we do "deep thinking" we often find that we are our worst enemy. That the choices we need to make won't be easy. That when we think deeply we find there is a great deal of work to do to accomplish a goal. Our human nature says, "No thank you, this is too hard and painful. Surely we can blame our shallow thinking on someone or something else."

     
     
     
    • Neville Suzman
    • Enable Value

    Involve senior managers.

    Even in a study done by HBR, firms with more effective governance had more senior management involvement.

    C level executives must be effectively involved in governance for success. Other senior managers must participate in the process and thus most importantly in performance reviews.

    It is easy to see that companies where senior management have a key understanding of operations, that positive outcomes and results are more likely for all stakeholders.

     
     
     
    • Dan Wallace

    There are many wonderful comments in this thread as to why companies do a relatively poor job of encouraging more breakthrough problem solving and idea generation. I would sum it up as follows: Whether by nature or as a result of creativity-busting education, a relatively small number of people really excel at this kind of thinking (see Comment 14). By definition, they come up with ideas outside the mainstream. Since they typically work for people who are by nature directive and/or naturally motivated by compliance, they often are seen as disruptive. This is exacerbated because as introverts (again, see Comment 14) they tend not to excel at the interpersonal skills needed for advancement. Thus, note comment 57: "You'd be great at the top but you'll never get there."

    I will only add to this part of the debate that while I'm a big believer in this kind of "deep thinking," and even think I'm pretty good at it, there can be too much of a good thing. Companies need to establish a careful balance between the generation of breakthrough ideas and successful execution on them. I have turned around several companies that were run by brilliant, creative founders with whopping cases of ADD who generated steady streams of great new ideas. In those situations, a primary need was to put most of the new ideas in the Parking Lot and to pick one or two on which to focus and make real progress.

    That said, the Zaltman's fundamental thesis, that decisions are driven by subconscious motivations, has not been addressed at all. This gets back to what is meant by "deep thinking." This thread deals entirely with the admittedly enormous need for creative, mold-breaking problem solving. However, there is a huge difference between that and plumbing the subconscious depths of decisions.

    The latter is perhaps more related to customer insight than to internally-focused thinking. Here's an example of what I mean. I recently had a dialog with a friend about cameras - specifically my irrationally strong preference for Nikons. In the course of that dialog, I figured out that this preference is based on the deeply imprinted feelings I retain from toddler-age trips to the camera store with my father, where he told me Nikon was the best you could get. It has nothing to do with whether he was right (I was three - how would I know) and everything to do with feeling important, included, an insider to 'big knowledge', etc. This sort of imprinting is the norm, not the exception. From a marketing perspective, what it means is that Canon will not win me over by showing me a raft of product features. What they really need to do is find a way to convince me that switching would be OK with Dad.

    There is nothing especially new in this kind of insight. It has been extensively documented that virtually all human decisions are made emotionally, for reasons that are largely subconscious, and then justified rationally. What the Zaltmans have added is the notion that that a limited number of primary subconscious drivers accounts for a large percentage of decisions.

    The bigger challenge is that good insights into the subconscious are not that easy to get. It is virtually impossible to probe your subconscious by yourself - that's why we have psychologists and psychiatrists.

    I agree completely with the Zaltmans that conventional research techniques do a poor job of plumbing these depths. The good news is that there are alternative research techniques that do a much better job. So, one might ask, why aren't these alternative methods commonplace? The short answer is that to date there simply are not a lot of people who understand and practice them (i.e., I know two). It's an adoption curve problem - we are still very much in the early adopter phase.

     
     
     
    • John Goodman
    • Senior Account Executive, IR Systems, Inc

    Deep thinking should result in complex answers. Unfortunately, most of us either by our own force of habit or the directives of those we work are forced to look for the simple, quick, tactical solution to immediate problems. As Roger Martin pointed out in his excellent book, The Opposable Mind, great leaders look for solutions by using intergrative thinking, a form of thinking that requires one to look at as many aspects of a problem as possible, take the various either/or solutions available and integrate them; no easy feat! This takes not only time and introspection, but also the ability to sell the solution to others that may suffer from a NIH (not invented here) mentality, a Just Do It history of solving problems or worse yet, a methodology of addressing problems by "feelings" (witness our current administration!). For someone not on the top the problem becomes 2 fold; first, having the ability to think deeply and secondly, being able to sell the results of those thoughts.

     
     
     
    • Ravi Parimi
    • Manager, Customer Business Transformation, Cisco

    In my mind, deep thinking has to be both horizontal and vertical. I don't think 'vertical' sense of deep thinking is a major issue for most managers..because most environments in which managers operate are conducive to that process. The harder one is 'horizontal' which requires a whole new set of skills. A few notable among these are - boundaryless thinking, self reflection, being able to interpret knowledge coming from disparate sources, continuous learning on the fly, collaborative attitude, influencing skills, adaptable to change etc.,

    Some things I do to cultivate deep thinking are as follows: * take time to reflect and write things down * schedule some time (1-2 hrs. every week) to learn something new outside your immediate work area and control * seek both internal and external viewpoints * think like a 'customer' * walk the talk * listening * relentless focus on team goals vs. individual goals * simplify..simplfy..simplify - as the saying goes, simplicity is the result of profound thought * not confusing hard work w/ results

    In today's complex global environment, strategic execution requires thinking not only horizontally but also thinking vertically. I think deep thinking is possible provided managers have the will to take risks and stay connected vertically and horizontally.

     
     
     
    • Charlie Nobles
    • NAM Sales Manager, Tyco Electronics

    I noted that most of the comments posted are from consultants and academics; I purposely scanned the comments to find those from the very people the question was posed to: managers. Interestingly their few responses shared one attribute; brevity. Are we too busy, being driven by the crisis 'du jour' and burdened by this quarter's results? Have we been properly trained to see the complexities and solutions beyond the framework of the specific problems we face? I think there is truth in both of these rhetorical questions. I would add another obstacle to thinking deeply. Often new thought and innovation is better received from someone paid to objectively view our business issues and provide solutions, i.e., consultants. When you are paying for a service, you tend to foster it with more care before discarding the thought. A prophet is never loved in his/her own country.

     
     
     
    • Frances Pratt
    • Sales Manager, Enspire Australia

    I have loved reading people's comments. One thing I would like to add on to - which has been mentioned by others.

    To think deeply and address issues such as balance, transformation, journey , container, connection, resource, and control... one has to have a great understanding of self and one's own heart. Unless this is the case - you cannot connect with others and lead.

    Whilst this may sound simple. when I consider the modern workplace, I do not see many organisations that adopt a positive attitude to heart at work and the inherent diversity which this must bring.

    It is about taking personal risks! We must be open and more importantly we must allow ourselves to encourage and be open to others - especially when they disagree / confront our own world view.

    To get deep we must be deep, and that takes hard work, commitment and resiliance.

     
     
     
    • David Albert Newman
    • Audit Project Leader, Govt of Manitoba

    Why Don't Managers Think Deeply? From Organizational Theory and Labour Relations, there are the constraints of limited cognitive capacity and finite time. These lead to breadth application over depth. The goal of organizations seems to be the rapidity of response in an ambiguous situation (rational efficiency) rather than precisely how an increment of time well spaced could produce more effective and economical results. This latter increment of time well spaced then would provide for space-time in thought as it is in physics. That is, we should but don't often harness learning curve exponential but rather think quite linearly.

    This linearity leads to a host of problems, including but not limited to another couple of constraints: cognitive biases and diminishing returns of thought scope and scale from the presumption of linearity that time increments will necessarily be learning curve exponential if we merely work more hours instead of resting and then starting afresh the next day. We also underestimate the power of diet and mind nutrition of sleep and stress reduction through exercise. These are seen as soft areas of life while we strive for the hard bottom line.

    Really our aim should be elasticity of neural networks rather than the misnomer plasticity of neural firings (where plasticity denotes linear thought problems and elasticity shows thought extension towards creativity rather than standardization).

    My theory: managers emulate, while not always consciously but often reflexively, the nuances of schooling which I deem the cubed relationship of tests: 1) We are tested under competitive time constraints (time) 2) We are tested in competitive relationship to each other (thought space relation) 3) We are tested for competitive traits (being)

    Some see these as opportunity builders of character. This is the fallacy of the under-in-for cube testing of competition. I see these as constraints to human potential: the under developed ability to work well with others by communication to do altruistic acts AND to negotiate efforts out of others. Absent is co-operation in an absolute sense devoid of competition. Competitive teams are not teams. They are individuals summed to equate to the whole rather than to be greater than the whole by synergy and goal congruence.

    Thus, it seems we learn little from Nash's Cooperative games and instead default to Zero Sum games. This arises from the mind as measurement machine in math, linguistics, and etc. or any other strength of communication that is misplaced in our overly competitive cubed testing regime in capitalistic society.

    The synthesis above is what I propose for why managers do not think deeply.

     
     
     
    • Brent Stewart
    • CEO Global Business Planning, Synovate

    Not wishing to make enemies but I can't find a response anywhere here that addresses the question. There is some very thoughtful and valuable insight into the title of the article: "Why don't Managers Think Deeply?" but the author Jim Heskett has asked: "What is your organization--and what are you--doing to bring more deep thinking into work and life?"

    To kickstart this "new forum" discussion, one thing our Company has recently initiated is a formal thought leadership group that is tasked with challenging the status quo and acting as a conduit within the business for this sort of deep thinking to flourish.

    This thought leadership group comprises some of our brightest and best thinkers and has the sponsorship of our senior leadership team. It is not intended to be a silo of deep thinking within the business as per the 'thinktank' model but rather a means of championing thoughtfulness throughout the ninety odd business units in our organisation.

    I can't say whether or not it has been effective - its too early to tell. The early signs are encouraging though and it has certainly sent all the right signals that we are interested in this type of thinking from our management ranks or indeed, anywhere within the business. One immediate learning worth sharing, however, is that caution needs to be exercised that this isn't interpreted narrowly in terms of what might be more aptly described as 'disruptive thinking'.

    I'd love to hear from others on the question that was actually posed by Heskett.

     
     
     
    • Ganesh Ram
    • GM - Career Planning & Development, i-flex solutions

    (On a lighter note, if you are reading this Nth comment, you could be a deep thinker :-))

    GE's CEO "encouraging managers to THINK DEEPLY about innovations that will ensure..." has nothing to do with creative or out-of-the-box thinking.

    Deep thinking (about anything) could be contrasted with shallow thinking in the following manner:

    Pursuing a sequential thread of thought without stopping in a haze of "et cetera". I once heard the phrase, "thinking till it hurts". This is a rare capability.

    Persisting with exploring all possible threads, options, views to their logical conclusion.

    Factoring the huge irrational and emotional side of the brain, using methods to be more logical and objective, revisiting non-urgent, important decisions after sleeping over them.

    Analyzing at one or more levels of abstraction using metaphors, visual representation.

    Involving other minds, seeking input.

    Time pressure and focus on short-term results are generic issues hindering deep thinking that are unlikely to just fade away. The interesting area for leaders and organizations to address is to create an environment for thinkers to express their views. The much celebrated bias for action also tends to smother healthy debate. This often results in prolonged post-mortem analysis and turnaround plans to mitigate the consequences of lack of thinking.

    Fostering diversity in all aspects is a sine qua non in today's flat world, and this could bring better thinking.

    Effective leaders need to recognize the different talents and strengths in their teams (including their own selves), and ensure enough space for thinkers and doers to do their best for long-term success.

     
     
     
    • Thousif Khan
    • MBA student, Bangalore, India

    Sir:

    When we go through that case, it often comes to mind that 'deep thinking' is wise and good for the organisation. However, sometimes "culture makes the difference", in the sense that in the organisation all work performed by executives or managers are not noticed, because the employer is paying for the work done by the employee. In the same way, employees try to complete the assigned job and they won't indulge in any of organisation's beneficial activities like how to reduce the cost of product or production cost.

    However, we can say that deep thinking does affect the organisation's growth.

     
     
     
    • Dr Bruce D. Watson
    • Founder & Principal, Heads Together

    Of course, there is no simple answer but a multitude of answers to the question. Some managers are simply incapable of thinking deeply - they have been largely trained for self preservation and "one-size-fits-all' answers. Others have there thinking only aligned to Key Performance Indicators and thinking revolves around achieving the largest possible bonus cheque for achieving the KPIs.

    Others don't understand even the basics of contemporary adult learning (their own and employees) and avoid challenging themselves. Research on strategic decision making and executive scanning has shown that executives assign greater weight to information from personal sources, such as colleagues, than to impersonal sources, such as written reports and recommendations or the output of management information systems, in making strategic decisions. It's a way of avoiding deep thinking. Another large body of knowledge shows that people often perse vere in their beliefs even when the evidential basis for those beliefs has been largely disconfirmed - executives' confidence in their strategies often persists despite negative performance outcomes. When people's beliefs are challenged, they tend to then seek information from sources that are likely to affirm those beliefs, particularly personal sources of information, and avoid sources that might disconfirm those beliefs.

     
     
     
    • Sweta Mohapatra
    • HR Consultant, Cerebrus

    Don't we all work to rise up to the expectations set for us !! By ourselves or others? In organizations where exponential growth and expansion is being planned, a select team of founder, owners and strategic teams do all the thinking.

    Rest of the managers are not thinking deeply because they are not expected to. Naturally, ability to conceptualize or think is not a trait you then look for while hiring. Nor do you encourage it after the person has joined. There are many organizations where a person reading a newspaper or planning the day ,may be percieved as ' this one has no work !'The common view in organizations is that they need DOERS not THINKERS ...And hence, it is easy to spot many examples of family owned businesses where noone except the Founder does any thinking, immaterial of their ability, potential or education background.

    'Deep Thinking' is like a favourite sport everyone in management wants to enjoy. However, not many owners pay others a salary for playing a favourite sport !!

    And hence the deep thinkers in large corporates move to Consulting ,not only induldge in this favourite sport almost always but also making a fortune out of it !!

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    I think that today's managers are taught that numbers are all important, and that the context and content that make up the numbers are irrelevant. Too often the same thing is tried over and over in various forms, and when failure happens again and again, the managers are puzzled as to how that can be. It may have been a great success when used in Harvard Business School, but completely useless in the real world, but today's managers, not having come up through the ranks, cannot understand that as their experience lacks the "depth" for him or her to think that deeply.

    While it is important to be willing to try something new and innovative, new and innovative is not a synonym for a great idea. Sometimes, there is a reason for the "old way" and it can be a saving grace. The ability to step back and realize one must go back to get ahead, is being lost. The other thing that gets lost with the modern manager, is the notion of the human asset as something other than a cog in the machine or a number on the spreadsheet.

    As cuts in labor are made, today's managers do not consider the stress they put on the remaining workforce. Like the engineered stress of machine parts, humans have their limits, and if it reaches the breaking point, the organization can become as useless as a seized engine.

     
     
     
    • Denyse Lynch
    • President, The Lynch Group - It's Not What You Think...it's how.

    Reasons Managers Don't Think Deeply: Factors that impact this ability are environment, belief, perception, behaviour, skill, and motivation. Examples include: Not encouraged by the culture, modelled or valued by organizational leadership; not considered a priority; complacency; lack of discipline/time management; poor, inadequate thinking skills; focus on the urgent versus important issues; busy doing tasks; no strategy, plan, objectives concerning issues that would benefit from deep thinking; lack of coaching, support on how to think deeply; lack of feedback on quality of their thinking. Even if managers possess personal motivation and proficient thinking ability, faced with all or, a combination of the above listed challenges, both motivation and ability will eventually be significantly diminished.

     
     
     
    • Al Brockway
    • President, The Decision Enabler - Helping Managers to Lead and Leaders to Manage

    It's a cliche--but 'it all starts at the top'. The culture and leadership of an organization determines the level of risk taking and independent thinking and decision making. When you think, speak, act and reward short term results, you automatically stifle any incentive to look long term. It takes a unique courage to stand out from the bunch--a courage lacking in most career oriented individuals. Solopreneurs have it. That's why so many leave organizations to start their own businesses. To attract and retain the kind of forward thinking managers needed in a global business, you have to cultivate a culture of reward and recognition which they can recognize and in which they can thrive. Time for Boards (especially independent directors) to demand the ability in their CEOs, to lead such an organization.

     
     
     
    • Dan Wallace

    A quick follow-up to my earlier comment. Someone posted the comment that deep thinking should result in complex answers. I could not disagree more strongly. Integrative thinking synthesizes and clarifies, making it possible to view old problems in new ways. Properly done, it produces very clear insight, resulting in remarkably simple solutions to seemingly complex problems. We are, after all, running businesses, not writing novels.

     
     
     
    • Bill Burnett
    • Leader of Innovation, WBurnett LLC

    Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor at Harvard's School of Business, tells an illuminating story about corporate culture and innovation.

    A fabric factory had a longstanding problem of yarn breaking during production, which impacted product cost. Over the years, the company had explored various paths to fix the problem without success. One morning, a new executive to the company, thinking he might spark the factory workers to start thinking in new ways, called them together and asked if anyone could come up with an idea to fix the problem. Hours later, an older worker with a heavy accent approached him with a suggestion. It worked! A few days later, thinking he'd sparked this moment of innovation, the executive asked the worker when had he come up with the idea, "Thirty-two years ago" he answered. It is a cute story, but illustrates what is really going on in hierarchical companies. It is not so much a lack of deep thinking as much as an inability to recognize and appreciate the value of deep thinking in others.

    Edward Hare (comment 48) is right. The capability to see the big picture and all the details, and to be able to know which details are relevant, is rare. What is even rarer is the ability of senior management to find and properly utilize this talent.

    The discussion of the type of person is too long to include here but is described in the white paper "You're laying-off your best problem-solvers!" http://www.lowselfmonitor.com/layoff.pdf There is also a new Problem-Solver Extraordinaire networking group forming at: http://problemsolvers.collectivex.com/main/summary

     
     
     
    • L Bell
    • ret'd Silicon Valley Mid Mgmt in Sales

    The first response is the most correct, based on my work experience, including Cisco, one of the touted success stories. As a Stanford trained (AB econ, '80) thinker, I was penalized for applying critical "deep" thinking to then-current business problems in my area of responsibility (not only at Cisco, but also at other smaller and larger technology firms.)

    My ideas were criticized and I was ostracized for offering creative, out-of-the box solutiuons to routine business challenges. Penallties, mostly, for creative ideas, options, and potential solutions.... except... if they were offfered privately to sr mgmt so they could take credit for their intelligence and business prowess (hubris at work) and only when the sr mgmt person had enough savvy to even take the time to consider the ideas and enough trust that I wouldn't reveal the source (me) of those ideas. This "back room" process also reguired that the sr mgmt person had enough intelligence to understand the ideas to not auotmatically reject them "out-of-hand" as absurd, unworkable, unfeasible, too costly; and also that the sr mgmt person would invest time to even listen to the ideas in the first place (don't waste my time on a great idea that might just leap-frog us into the stratoshphere vis a vis our competitors! (or just position us for a small competitive advantage this qtr or next) or solve one of long-standing (or even short term) problems facing your dept.

    "Don't you realize that we don't do that here?! What's the matter with you? Conform to my rules or get out... and stop wasting my time and the real issue, stop intimidating me and my value proposition to this firm; I'm not going to position you to get my job! I refuse to be replaced by you and I'm not smart/skilled enough to rise to my superior's position..."

    Survival of the fittest rules here, confrom or leave. Deep thinking is a liability and is penalized severely in corporate America.

     
     
     
    • Aidan Kenny
    • www.1millionusers.com

    I started to think deeply about Jim's question, but ran out of time before I could reach a conclusion!

    I think that it is more related to having the time to think deeply than anything else. I doubt if anyone has spent a long time trying to think deeply about something and then come to the conclusion that they are unable to.

    The solution is to find a way to "quickly" think deeply. How about "deep speed-thinking"?

     
     
     
    • Vaidy
    • Global Innovation Leader, Cognizant Technology Solutions

    Most of the people in an organization do their 'Job'; i.e. what they are are paid for, measured on, and expected to do. There is also a tendency to use the term Manager and Leader interchangeably. They are not. A Manager's job is to ensure that things are proceeding 'Ops Normal'. It is the Leader who envisions and set direction, sets the social culture, etc. Managers has to do what they need to do to ensure that the 'predictable and committed' outcome is delivered. They trade that off to so some other 'thinking stuff' is not good for the company!!! So, it is not surprising when Jeff Immelt says what he says there by setting (resetting) the Job descrition for the Managers. He is talking and then walking the talk. What he is saying is, 'Doing the thinking is a predictable and committed outcome I would want you managers to do from now on. We will figure out how to keep things Ops normal in its presence'.

    If 'Managing' is what managers do, why is reaching out to them to for 'Thinking' important. That is because they are the ones who have tremendous insight into what is going on. They are the frontline (from thinking perspective) a la what Andy Grove mentions in his 'Only the Paranoid Survive'.

     
     
     
    • Dr. Rejimon Thomas
    • Director-Corporate Strategy, Garden City College, Bangalore, India

    The Master said, "A gentleman is ashamed to let his words outrun his deeds", mentioned in the Analects 14.29. Thinking is the greatest gift God gave to man. We all have a great responsibility to use it judiciously. As mangers we all are forced to be in the operations so don't have much time to think. When a person thinks he moves to the future. He invests more in his determination. As the great martial artist Bruce Lee rightly said, "You must have complete determination. The worst opponent you can come across is one whose aim has become an obsession. For instance, if a man has decided that he is going to bite your nose off, no matter what happens to him in the process, the chances are that he will succeed in doing it.

    He may be severely beaten up but that will not stop him carrying out his original objective. That is the real fighter." So when you have more time please think more. You are what you think. If it is right we all need to think the right thoughts. As the Indian ancient scripture Guru Granth Sahib mentions "The gold is touched to the touchstone, and tested by fire; when its pure colour shows through, it is pleasing to the eye of the assayer."

     
     
     
    • Ramanan Jagannathan
    • Project Manager, i-flex Solutions Ltd

    There are multiple aspects that need to be considered, when one has to answer this query.

    First is the act of thinking itself. The fact is that most of the time, most of the activities that we do don't need us to analyze a problem from all its perspectives and arrive at a solution. Because we have fewer variables to handle, we get used to this kind of (shallow) thinking (which actually is ok for the problem in hand). But over a period of time, we find that we have lost the ability to look at a problem from all its perspectives. This is because thinking deep or big needs a person to handle more variables than what is needed usually. It is a discipline that needs lot of rigor and has to be practiced consciously over a period of time.

    Second is the tendency to over simplify everything that we do. By doing this over simplification, we tend to miss out on variables/factors that are otherwise important - when we consider the bigger picture. There is a difference between acknowledging the existence of a factor, but not using it in our thinking, and not acknowledging the factor at all.

    Third is the inability to think at an abstract level. By abstract thinking, i mean the thinking where the essence of a situation or problem is understood with the use of fewer factors. When we have to ask profound questions or when we face bigger problems, only abstract thinking will help us.

    Fourth is the fact that people should know how to sell ideas. It doesn't matter, if a person has a great idea, but unless it is sold properly and is tried out, the thought/idea doesn't have any meaning.

    If only all these are present, then a person can think of thinking about the bigger picture, take a long term view or think deep.

    The present day businesses focus on quarterly results and short term plans aren't necessarily in favor of people who can think deep or big. This means that you also have to find a place where you can sell the ideas and make it accept. This means that the person who sells the idea and the place where it gets accepted and executed should both be open to experiment.

    So it also requires that a person doesn't let go of his ideas, but wait till he gets the opportune moment to sell it to the world at the right place and at the right time.

    mysticmundane.blogspot.com

     
     
     
    • Kumara Uluwatta
    • Head/ Senior Lecturer - Dept. of Accountancy, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka

    If they are not thinking deeply when making decisions, they are not Managers. On the other hand within the given time frame, some times they are not having adiquate time to waste. Not only that, how do we define the word DEEP ? In most cases, situationally they are making decisions with facing risky and uncirtain situations. Therefore, time to time, situation to situation the deep thinking style may be vary. However, I can conclude that, all the managers are think deeply based on the situation, their inherent lazy style, behavioral pattern, knowledge, skill, experience, intuition and so on...... Actually we must think how third parties look at them ? Deepness is reletive and depends on others' angle on it.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    My point of reference is large, publicly held companies as that is the profile of my client base and my employer of 15 years.

    My experience has been that we are operating in a world of fear, where everyone is afraid of falling short of financial projections, afraid of being a victim of staff reductions, afraid of not being able to fund the lifestyle that they cannot really afford.

    In these large public companies, what's rewarded is "not screwing up" as opposed to thinking deeply, discovering that big idea, and taking the calculated risks that drive growth and create new markets.

    The big company cultures do not seem to reward the same behavior "in the mangement trenches" that they expect its executives to study in business school.

     
     
     
    • lawrence
    • sales, Accel

    Sourness of day to day actions(short-term) should not hamper the sweetness of planning and thinking deeply for the future. It is the balance that is critical.With out short term results the long-term objectives can't be achieved. Leaders should foster deep-thinking at all levels in the organizations and reward mechanisms should be put in place. Deep thinking is possible only with the understanding the nature of the market. How deep can you go without understanding?

     
     
     
    • Imran Ahmed
    • Efu General Insurance Limited

    The organizations are not geared up for this, they do not provide the right kind of culture to their managers to think beyond their day to day job.

    The targets given by the senior management to the managers are short term targets, this means that intentionlly/unintentionally a line has been drawn by the senior management, that it is only their job to give a vision to the company, or suggest and make a structural/organizational change.

    The managers are not being trained to think deeply. This requires continuous on the job grooming and development.

    The managers are overbudened with the day to day drudgery, do not find time, to think beyond the job in hand.

    The evaluation/appraisals/compensation system is not designed to motivate and reward for thinking beyond today for his organization.

     
     
     
    • Farhad Merchant
    • Sr. Manager - Strategic Initiatives, i-flex solutions

    While I agree with a number of points given above, for the sake of argument, I will indulge in presenting a different perspective to this. While deep thinking can certainly add some value to the leadership of an organization, it is not the end-all or the solution to its problems. Lets not forget that sparks of ingenuity have resulted in some of the greatest breakthroughs and that a lot of 'deep thinking' and research can also lead nowhere, if there is no 'clarity of thought'.

    To elaborate further on my point of contention, I would even say that while the intellectual discussions can continue to support the concepts of deep thinking, each of us must step back and think (truly and clearly) of the most significant achievements we have made in our careers and to what do we attribute those successes. It could be that I am very different, but most of the things that I would consider significant are not those that I had to think too deeply about. These successes were those that involved the following key aspects:

    1. Passion - The zeal and enthusiasm to do something
    2. Perfection - The inherent desire do a perfect job of anything I undertook and a real critical look into anything that is not up to the mark
    3. Determination - The doggedness to achieve the objectives no matter what the constraints
    4. Confidence - The ability to sustain and be patient knowing that you are on the right path; and finally,
    5. Realism - The identification of the practical aspects that will always need to be considered

    Thus, I say this without any hestitation - Trust in yourself and your abilities - No single policy or mantra applies to all (not the ones I have written above, nor the 'Deep thinking' philosophy above)

    Each person comes with their own strengths and their own flavors of leadership that together contribute towards the success of any venture and/or growth of any organization.

     
     
     
    • Girella Laura
    • student, University of Ferrara, Italy

    I believe that the only answer to this question is: they have never been asked to do so. Rather than being related to the type of organization to which they belong, this is a consequence of the type of culture by which they are surrounded, that is to say, the western culture based on Cartesian dualism, which has postulated a separation between mind and body. While the body and the matter, on the one hand, have an extension that can be grasped with the senses but, on the other hand, do not think, the mind has no extension but the ability to think. This implies the supremacy of the thinking subject, as it is the source of truth: "Cogito ergo sum".

    Although, at a first glance, such a proposition seems quite far from reality (from the organizational reality in the first place), I am on the contrary convinced that it wholly represents 'the way it is' The supremacy of the 'intellect' can be tracked in the contingency theory up to the present. Does not the making of decisions happen solely on the basis of information? Not even all the information, but only the strategically relevant information. This attitude narrows the sphere of action and, most of all, the management's intellectual reach. How can we demand a development of the "deep thinking" if we provide no opportunity for this to happen? And where does this lack of opportunity come from? It derives from a culture based on the focus on success. The current of functionalism explains it quite clearly, with Herzberg's, Cherns' and McClelland's works being particularly valid examples.

    Herzberg, indeed, declares the supremacy of the positive effects deriving from motivating factors, such as the success of obtained results, over the negative effects deriving from hygienic factors, such as interpersonal relationships, work procedures, etc.

    Cherns, in his latest version of the socio-technical approach, talks about ' responsibilization and error correction', while McClelland, finally, shows a conception of achievement (i.e. the push towards success) in relation to both one's personal experiences of gratification and to the quest of situations whose probabilities to fail are not too high. In practical life, this translates to the common trend among employers of hiring the best students.

    I believe, therefore, that this is the reason behind the fear of disruption resulting from 'thinking differently and deeply' and a conception of the team which represents a need of affiliation.

    Which solution, then, can solve this 'problem'? I think, contrarily to Prof. Zaltman's opinion, that the aim 'to find deep metaphors that individuals share in common rather than differences'can only exacerbate the existing situation, leading the management to withdraw even further instead of stimulating them to 'come out of their shells' breaking free from common opinion.

    I think that, for a start, the management should be trained to 'experience the experience', in the same way as it already happens in the eastern world, where no information is strategically relevant, all information being taken into consideration. Managers are not, indeed, the product of degrees and masters of high level but, more often than we might expect, have little -if not absent- 'theoretical' preparation.

    Japanese culture, contrarily to its western counterpart, actually professes a unity of body and mind with no supremacy of one over the other, but a fusion of the two, given that it is thanks to practical life that our mind can enhance itself (for a practical example of this approach, see the successful introduction of a Japanese new product such as the hybrid car presented by Toyota ten years ago).

     
     
     
    • Hemant Rachh
    • Product Manager, IMImobile

    Yes, Zaltmans have hitted right on one of the pain point of management. Everything is getting commoditized (based on imitate to innovate) right from products to services and it is difficult to generate differentiation in fierce competitive market.

    I believe there are other alternatives available for management other than pushing managers for "Deep Thinking".

    For example:

    1. By training managers to follow a process of thinking. This will reduce stress of pushing mind to limits.

    2.By making organization work like a community, it will foster innovation and effective decision making in normal course of work. This will also generate unique customer experience at every touch point increasing customer retention rate.

     
     
     
    • A. Ali Hoorsun

    I can only speak about my own experience in a big organization. Contrary to the title of this discussion, I believe our middle managers nowadays do think deeply, actually a lot deeper than their own bosses give them credit for. However what they deeply think about may not be what they "should" deeply be thinking about! I believe our managers think very carefully and analytically about how they can get to the next level, climb up fast, expand their own little kingdoms within, or keep feeding that ego. Then goals and objectives are set and action points executed accordingly, on a personal/hidden agenda level.

    Unfortunately these goals are mostly at odds with the overall direction that the company is/should be going towards. I am not saying that every manager falls under this category or that they all succeed in pulling it off, some do also get burned. But the end result is bunch of short-term actions designed to deliver short-term results with just enough impact to get noticed hopefully by the next level management. The bottom line is that the managers I see nowadays are not interested in building something that would last beyond them. The house of cards that they build or try build and stand on could collapse the day after they get the next best offer and they wouldn't care less. This is unfortunately what I see, a waste of energy and brain power in the wrong direction and for the wrong reasons that hinder companies as a whole to improve.

     
     
     
    • Dr. Diana Whitney
    • President, Corporation for Positive Change

    We must consider what it takes for managers, or anyone, to think deeply. Three key factors, none of which are currently encouraged of managers, are:

    1. an appreciation of silence,
    2. willingness to take time for reflection, and
    3. a capacity for inquiry. Current managerial habits place a premium on analysis and critique. They must balanced with practices that foster listening, appreciation and generative dialogue.

    Furthermore I suggest we invite managers to consider the implications of "organizational consciousness," as well as culture, on performance and innovative.

     
     
     
    • Marco Santori
    • Eirecon Associates

    "Shared vision", "everybody on the same page", "corporate culture"---this is all big company mumbo-jumbo that results in suppression of deep thought, whether intended or not! So, CYA becomes the norm, also intended or not!

     
     
     
    • David Mullings
    • CEO, Realvibez Media

    Managers/Leaders do not think deeply because they are often not entrepreneurial in their mindset.

    Business schools teach us to manage, not be creative. Processes become more important than innovation.

    This is the fundamental reason why startups or new entrants into a market tend to leapfrog a more established company.

    It has especially been brutal in technology and the age of the Internet. The big companies, run by the process managers usually get beat to the next big thing by some up-and-comer.

    Case in point, even Google had to give in and just buy YouTube because Google Video could not compete.

     
     
     
    • Matthew

    I ask this body of thinker "Have we thought more deeply about this topic by collaborating towards a greater, more diverse answer?" I failed to see; not one comment that was based on another persons comment; not one probing question directed to another person that was asked or answered.

    Some would say that two heads are better than one but it is obvious in reading all responses that we thus far have 101 heads that have all failed to collaborate (identify and build knowledge from a previous statement made by another) and yet we are ironically all making our points about the need to break free from collaboration in order to communicate, think and act on a deeper level.

    I do enjoy everyones commentary and would like to pose a question to a few people here in the aim of breaking the status quo and in so doing possibly finding a deeper level of thinking through a deeper, more interactive discussion.

    To: 96: I enjoyed your articulation of the problem and wonder if it is possible for managers to "break employees out of their shells". In my limited experience I have seen very few examples of manager effecting people on a fundimental level beyond the bounds of reward and punishment but I would very much enjoy anyones input on this.

    To 96; Do the Japanese bypass us based on a collaboration and if so how can that be adopted here in the West?

    or in contrast... does 95 lay out the guiding virtues of Western Idealism that should be followed?

    48 believes that deep thinkers are a rarity that should be capitalized on. A problem with identifying these people still exists and who is to Judge this rare potential in another? There once was a more stable mentoring program in most jobs but this is hindered by job instabillity (employees today shift jobs at least 5 times)

    In 17's book we are just being managed quarter by quarter so why not follow 92 advice and don't mess up or as 63 put it "get comfortable" either way remain Anonymous and do what 88 says they are paid to do. That was entertaining for me but I hope to hear some answers as well as see some more questions that will provoke us all to higher levels.

    As for now I am pressed for time and must go so I must agree on some level that time constraints keep us from fully developing our potentials.

     
     
     
    • G.P. Misra
    • Asst. Gen. Manager, SAIL, Rourkela Steel Plant

    Due to hectic schedules / improper planning, delegation of responsibilities etc. I think most practising managers in industries, at all levels, do not go back to basics - reading habits. In the process, they do not up-date their professsional knowledge, business skills, multi-disciplinary alignment in decision making & execution etc. Practical knowledge gained is limited to the particular industry.

    For an effective global manager, Reading habits are a must while updating to present knowledge / global practices followed elsewhere in similar situations, practical analysis, combating threat percptions with effective Leadership skills; is a must - to remain ahead. As such, Reading habits also has several positive effects on the `Grey Matter'; on Stress, confidence, tackling newer situations, while remaining at the fore-front. He should participate in different Seminars & present papers in relevant field - to activate his involvement, get more contacts & draw the intellectual attention, as somebody who matters to the Organization & Professional / Businesss / Academicians - in the community for Recognition.

    This self development has to come from within & no organization can instill these basics on any practising manager. The organization can at best counsel or send him to attend / participate. Unless he is genuinely committed to reach the frontiers of knowledge (with due humility), he is like any other ordinary manager.

     
     
     
    • Matthew Kidder

    My thanks to all of the writers above who have broadened my scope of this topic. I have rarely had the privilege to see a dialogue of this depth and breadth. My highest respect goes out to everyone who has added to this topic thus far. This topic brings into question the fundamental design of our society and I am pleased to see so many people deliberating about this topic. To question is in itself an answer.

    As an American who has witnessed the birth of the Corporate Paradigm, I sometimes struggle with the premises of our society that prevent us from reaching deeper levels of connectivity and thought.

    The arguments contributed above show a wide range of perspectives that are all bound to a single purpose of business ($$$$). We struggle with this common force that has the profound impact of directing our society.

    The question at hand evokes many emotions in me as I sometimes feel limited in my contributions along this topic line. I'm not sure how we can rearrange ourselves based on deep metaphors without a major reconstruction that shifts the focus away from the bottom line...the dollar. Deep metaphors mentioned above are intrinsically motivated to which no denominated piece of paper or coin will provide an answer and yet money is what drives our society by giving us a means to actualize these metaphors in our lives, if only in a diluted version. For ironically the ultimate pursuit of money leads to the destruction of the end goals.

    I feel frustrated by business along these lines and thus I turn to other avenues for my satisfaction although I wish it were not so because work is such a large portion of life.

    I don't feel alone in this struggle as I see so many people around me lacking some sort of these 7 metaphors as they drive by in a rush somewhere, flipping you off and honking their horn in a rage. They probably ignored developing family connections (connectivity) as they rushed out the door to work in an unbalanced life of overtime, to be frozen without transformation or journey but only to Contain things and to provide Survival. How can anyone take time to think deeply in such an environment, that creates subconscious overtones of fear, frustration, anxiety and anger. Zaltman seems to be pitching empathy to the business world. I am awaiting his books in the mail. I have a hope that has yet to be satisfied fully but thank you all again for giving me some partial satisfaction in the diversity of responses.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Well, it is evident from all the article and the comments herein, that 'deep thinking' is successful only when it is lead from the top. Mr. Immelt got it ingrained into GE's culture, and therefore the campaign line 'Imagineering' and the results are for everyone to see. There's a CEO who says do not use mobiles and computers for five hours and swears that it works - I bet it does.

    If the top is shallow, then I guess everything else is shallow.

     
     
     
    • Ulysses U. Pardey, MBA
    • Managing Director, Am-Tech, S.A., Panama, Rep.of Panama

    Allow me to make further comments on this subject.

    Pros and Cons

    Thinking-in-the-workplace could generate the foundation for the emergence of opportunities and fears in managers' minds based on managers' strengths and weaknesses. Therefore thinking could be a source of stress. This is a reality that those who want to develop thinking-in-the-workplace might have to deal with. It is highly possible that managers might be gauged in terms of "who is more suitable for a promotion?" This is why, as a manager, I would like to know the real scope of this think-thing in my job as it could eventually challenge or question the actual hierarchy for payroll purposes. This could be a very good reason to call for protection.

    On the other hand, if fitting in the culture of the company is a key success factor for career advancement and if thinking-in-the-workplace becomes part of the culture of the company then there might be more successful employees retained by the company. Does this favor people-and-profit growth? Is this a threat to someone or a group's established-way to make-it in the workplace? How could being-there-first and career advancements be properly balanced for people-and-profit growth? Indeed, it reads as if, for the present time, thinking-in-the-workplace is more about people and their built-in personal interests (the underlying established-culture based on some employees' needs?) than the business of the company per se. This could be one of the most important constraints in the development of thinking-in-the-workplace, as a complement to daily business operations, and dealing properly with some employees' needs might become one of the key success factors for a very useful breakth rough innovation in the management-solutions of companies, leading to the creation of more profitable and fulfilling workplaces.

    Could managers be called for "well-rewarding sacrifice-plays" whenever necessary so that the team (company) wins or gets to a better competitive position in order to win, like some professionals do in other industries? For the sake of an illustration, the "sacrificed" player in a baseball inning, so that another player mate gets from second to third base, all players are winners and do have well paying jobs. It is highly valued as a win-win situation by the players, their team, their fans and that entertainment business. It is the expected right thing to do. Perhaps some commonplace successful practices in other industries are to be learned and adapted in conventional-management workplaces; they might become best-practices of management or good thinking in the industry.

    Therefore, an only-one-way-up definition of career advancement or professional success (the bottle neck effect) could be a severe limitation to the making of workable and acceptable management-solutions. This could be one of the reasons why a more wide-ranging definition of what career advancement or professional success is all about, could provide access to a greater diversity of feasible and professionally acceptable solutions (a wide-open neck effect) for the framing of this think-matter. I believe that this upgraded definition is possible and that it could be part of the management-solution of companies. Is this everyone's concern or will those few daring-leaders be on their own?

    Some potential workable general guidance for the shaping of the solution of this think-matter: "Intelligence is not a measure of how much we know to do but of how we behave when we do not know what to do" John Holt.

    Companies need to be profitable to live, and thinking-in-the-workplace, as a complement to efficient daily business operations, could be a must to make it happen.

    I believe that with these two items in place, companies could be more competitive in order to favor people-and-profit growth and hopefully near full employment.

    Thank you for the opportunity.

     
     
     
    • Philippe Gouamba
    • Vice President of H.R., Skyline Windows, LLC

    As a Vice President of H.R. I do think; I do use reason, analysis, research and information from here and there, all for the benefit of providing the best support that I can to my senior-most executives.

    H.R. is a support function. As such, I support our President, Chief Financial Officer and our C.O.O. I execute their decisions. Do I have to think deeply? The true answer to that question is NO, but I do have to apply good thought to how I turn their decisions in to reality.

    If I disagree with an executive level plan or decision, I voice my objection. My objection is usually heard and 8 times out of 10, I am instructed to execute the decision anyway.

     
     
     
    • Ramon Rojas
    • Transportation Program Manager, CBP Border Patrol

    I believe another factor besides 1) reluctance to take risk, 2) fear of disruption, 3) potential cost of changing ones mind, and 4) the lack of information for deep thinking, is 5) too many surface items that have to be completed that it creates a time contraint (disruption) for deep thought. The only thing that I am concerned about is the fact that many decisions are based on fear, or fear of... Where is the courage of leadership? The idea of being alone at the top? I personally like to analyze the whole, then cut the fat and make the best decision possible. If one gets criticized, it's only for a while, but you can live without the skepticism.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    A manager's stake in the organization is usually tied to task performance which if done successfully will elevate the mgr. to a larger stake(partnership/options) in the organization; the motivation to think deeply grows as a consequence.

     
     
     
    • Girella Laura
    • student, University of Ferrara, Italy

    To 102: thank you for your interest. I am only at the beginning of my research on the knowledge creation process within organizations and, in particular, on a comparison between the Japanese and the American approach (towards a possible integration between the two). Therefore, I do not yet have a proper answer to your question on how the Japanese method could practically be adopted in the West. But I can tell you that, from what I have learnt until now, the Japanese surely surpass us on collaboration.

    'Unfortunately', the answer comes once again from culture. The unity of body and mind leads the Japanese culture to prefer subjective knowledge, thus exploiting the interaction between people. Things are therefore 'conceptualised' in relation to other things or people. This attitude produces an ideal of life which is to exist in harmony with others and to form, with them, a 'collective self'. The self-realization is located in the realization with the others. In this way, the 'team approach' takes place naturally. To make decisions, for example, managers ask their collaborators for help, and this is due to the fact that they are not hired on the basis of MBAs or similar achievements: their academic preparation, then, is not as high as that of their western counterparts, so they do not feel 'invincible'-and this allows them to ask for collaboration. From an organizational point of view, this translates to the adoption of a so-called 'rugby-like style', in which 'everybody runs, passes the ball to the others and joins in the pursuit of the objectives as a unique body.'

    The western culture, on the contrary, is based on Cartesian dualism, with the subsequent objective 'conceptualisation' of things and the eternal ideal of self-realization, as though the thinking subject were a detached, external observer. From an organizational point of view, this translates to the adoption of a so-called 'relay-race style', in which 'the task of a person ends when the other's begins.' Although this individuality could be related both to a unique person and a team, it however remains an individuality, that is something really 'closed'.
    In my opinion, this has not been taken into account when the Japanese-style concept of teamwork has begun to be adopted more and more often in consequence of the growing success of Japanese societies, applying it in an almost 'aseptic' way and modifying it ex-post rather than ex-ante. Professor Edmondson's research, which is continuously aimed at adjusting and explaining how a better collaboration and learning within a team can be possible, confirms this trend.

    Taking into account all of these elements, I think that it would be more appropriate, from a 'psychological' point of view, to adopt first of all a 'football-like' style which, in my opinion, merges the 'rugby-like' and the 'relay-race' approaches. Indeed, from a technical point of view, this style respects both the first one (in which 'everyone, or almost everyone, runs and passes the ball') and the second one, because an 'individuality' and a role are 'guaranteed' in any case, even -and most of all- in the case of a 'foul caused by two players tackling one' This latter, according to me, should be gradually diminished by passing from the defence technique 'man against man' to the 'zone defence', so that the individual could slowly get used to the group and to the clash with more people.

    Besides, both the forms of power theorised by McClelland find their justification in this style; such powers are the 'personalised' power, which emerges in direct relations with others and, therefore, in the context of direct competition, and the 'socialised' power, which is based on an enhanced self-control as well as on a moderate use of power, oriented also to the others. In this way, workers would perhaps be more satisfied with their own work: Argyris actually recognizes that satisfaction increases the more one's control over a job increases and that this, in turn, leads to a more positive evaluation not only of team work, but also of the work extension itself, which does not always agree with the workers' will as it brings more responsibilities.

    Once a certain degree of familiarity with the other has been established, the 'rugby-like' style can be completely adopted, 'openness' being one of the strongest aspects of this sport (national rugby teams are composed of players of different nationalities, whereas national football teams do not allow such a mix). In this way, I think there would be a come-back of the primary form of 'a group' introduced by Mayo, which I held to be the 'healthiest' and, therefore, the most effective and efficient: "it happened that the six individuals became a team, and the team began spontaneously and wholeheartedly to collaborate on the experiment. As a consequence, the workers felt their participation was voluntary [...] and were happy knowing they were working with neither constraints from above, nor limitations from below". As you can see, this is only a theoretical solution, I do not really know if it could ever find a practical application, above all because, as I said at the beginning, it comes from the culture and I have not had the possibility yet to investigate more deeply in the literature and practice of all of the aspects of my research.

    However, such an approach must be applied already at the hiring stage.

     
     
     
    • Sarah Federman
    • Global Brand Executive, TelmarPeaktime

    When one lived in the woods, say at Walden Pond, it was easier to hear one's thoughts, no?

    Now one lives at the pace of neurons, rather than the pace of the seasons.

    Et alors...we also have a lot more brains working on problems so the average man (or woman) can probably be a bit lazy and still benefit from the hard work of others.

     
     
     
    • Brad OToole
    • Vice President- Marketing, Transparent Audio, Inc

    Funny, I don't want to be accused of not thinking too deeply here about the problem of not thinking too deeply. The answer to me lies in the recognition and the reward. What executive truly benefits from the "Aha" moments found in corporate culture. Usually it is the executive above the idea generator. Seldomly does the instigator of a deep thinking idea get the recognition for the idea. If it is a good idea the boss steals it as his/her own. If it is a bad idea it rests with the manager that dared utter it in a meeting. The risk is too great to think deeply. The reward is too small.

    Owners and Presidents can benefit enormously from deep thinking ideas while managers do not. I "deeply think" owners and Presidents should seriously consider how deep ideas can be openly communicated and their source respected. Real answers take time and effort, and often trial and error. Most of the time the level right below the President is at fault for not allowing these ideas to flow freely. Their experience and their political savvy are roadblocks.

    An idea that benefits a company for its lifetime only benefits a manager for the time it takes him/her to say it, get that pat on the back, and then it's back to work.

    Really good ideas will be taken to outside investors and brought about as a new competitive company. Now that is how the manager can benefit from deep thinking!

     
     
     
    • Steve Mostyn
    • Head of Executive Developments, RBS

    Let's assume for a moment they do think deeply! Our challenge as developers of managers is to firstly help them think together in a way that revisits and uses the process of Socratic dialogue. Secondly we can help managers understand and navigate the role that organisational power plays in allowing 'deep thought'. Helping leaders reflect and learn is the essence of quality 'action learning' .My anecdotal insights suggest managers do think deeply. My role is to encourage more reflective practice to help them fully realise their leadership roles through the deep thinking leading to valuable action.

     
     
     
    • Ashis Sen
    • Internal Coach, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited

    While CEOs often feel and articulate the need for innovative thinking, Thinking out of the Box, their messages are ambiguous.

    When a CEO or a top executive personally guarantees protection to people with innovative ideas, the managers feel alienated and may in fact work in a manner to discourage innovative thinking.

    In fact, organizations which have a history of innovation often integrate challenging as the established norms as well as established products usefulness.

    Talent when recruited and encouraged often are prone to challenging established processes, products and cultural norms. They appear often unreasonable and they pursue goals which appear unreasonably different or difficult.

    In the process they also challenge their supervisors who feel threatened and fearful. They either make them fall in line and at times even discredit their ideas publicly as unworkable.

    These structures after more than two decades of working and leading teams have been witnessed by me once too often.

    Our organization does have systems to encourage ideas like Coin your ideas etc but central schemes would work only when local forces support the global (organizational) objectives of innovation

     
     
     
    • 1stSgt Stephen M Pitman, U S Marines (Ret)
    • Cell Manager, Lydall Thermal/Acoustical, Inc.

    Coming to the automotive manufacturing world after a career in the Marine Corps and then college, I found myself blissfully ignorant of The Way Things Are Done Around Here. I turn this to my advantage as I continually ask, "Why are you doing it that way?" and then try to find a way to do it better/faster/cheaper. I think about parts-per-minute, this hour's output and scrap, today's press schedule, the monthly production and labor numbers, and the quarterly financials. We discuss all the numbers twice a day and evaluate variations from the ideal. Lots of superficial thinking.

    However, my company enthusiastically embraces Lean Six Sigma which, while imposing the structure of a process, encourages deep thinking to get to the root causes and develop solutions. Our CEO has pushed Lean Six Sigma down to the production floor with press Operators trained as Advocates and Maintenance Technicians now working towards belt certification. This works for us within the rigid confines and requirements of our customers.

     
     
     
    • Vinay Kumar Srivastava
    • Consultant, Free Lance

    Middle managers do not think deeply due to: 1, Their personality traits like attutude, behavior pattern 2. Work Load (unimportant too) 3. Time bound target achievement pressure 4. Ambiguous job responsibilties & authorities 5. Unknown fear about putting forward any new innovations/ideas 6. Family problems

     
     
     
    • Mahendra Bassarmalani
    • Business Analyst, Tata Consultancy Services

    The point made by Jeffery Immelt is very critical for a successful and ever-evolving organization; but the point has failed to get the required attention from organization's leadership and management. I believe that three things are in between of this ignorance and perfect deployment of deep and thoughtful thinking.

    First, lack of support, encouragement and training from business schools. Every graduate from a business school has thinking style of his own and has a view to see things differently. The hindrances here are the real-time circumstances and bureaucratic culture in many organisations, which not only restricts and erodes the overall ability of quality thinking, but also hits the efficiency and productivity of new managers. In addition, not all business schools teach, train and encourage its students to handle these circumstances efficiently.

    Second, target-oriented rather than action-oriented attitude of organizations. The top management still ranks ROI (return on investment) as the most important factor of measurement of success in their companies. In today's competitive environment, companies expects managers to come 'up to the curve' in a very short span of time, burdens him with the short-term targets and fascinates him with a glittering dream of success, job stability and monitory benefits. This deteriorates the zeal in the manager for his effective contribution in the long-term success of the organization.

    And last, the manager himself is responsible as well for this state of ignorance and lack of vision. Over the time, the manager got involved in multi-activities and loses courage and time to think 'out-of-the-box'. The fear of failure, resistance to change and humiliation among colleagues if things go wrong are added 'excuses'.

    Almost all enterprises today have a Chief Information Officer to assist the CEO in developing and improving an efficient IT architecture, so why not create the position of a Chief Management Officer? Or Chief Leadership Officer? Quite a few corporations already have done so, and we will hopefully see this in smaller companies as well in the near future. Many companies, especially in Europe with its current lack of engineering specialists, are beginning to realise that an enduring and foresighted management and leadership initiatives from associates may be just as important for lasting business success as the development of cutting-edge products and new markets.

    The key is that to becoming a resonant manager, the employees must: ? Develop their emotional intelligence ? Renew their relationships, and ? Sustain their effectiveness

     
     
     
    • HC Garner
    • Assistant Professor, CGSS ILE

    Why don't managers think deeply?

    Before a leader/manager can think deeply, he/she must know how to think! Thinking is a developed process. One must refine the quality of their thinking to reach productive subconscious thinking. For most individuals, this is an acquired skill requiring focus, concentration, and practice. I recommend "The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools" by Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder. It provides a method for improving the thinking process.

     
     
     
    • Terry Gilliam
    • CEO, Synectics, Inc.

    In headlines: In a headline, senior managers are not rewarded to think deeply or innovatively; they are rewarded to think (and act) close in. "Close in" applies to time as well as to risk-taking.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Time is a key issue. I and most of my colleagues are booked in "must-do" meetings from 8-6 every day, sometimes even earlier. Then I need to do the work that didn't get done from 8-6. Typically leave the office around 7:30. It's after 8 PM when I get home. When, exactly, would I do this deep thinking? I owe my family some time too. I've decided that too many meetings and not enough think-time is the hallmark of a poorly run company (and our stock price and condition of our company would bear this out).

     
     
     
    • Eurico Gushi
    • Consultant, CRIAVIVA Consultoria

    Why Don't Managers Think Deeply? (1) Because they don't use Intuition as a Logic Thinking Tools and (2) Because they don't use Heuristic as a Strategy Discovery Process

     
     
     
    • J Lalos
    • Project Lead, Major 500 Company

    For perspective to my response, I preface with a brief background: I have a strong work ethic, actually enjoy work and problem solving, have a 40+ year work history in 3 major professions and earned a recent MBA. For the last 17 years I have been part of a major American corporation in IT and have seen extreme changes.

    The deep-thinking described by 98 -Hoorsun, is one change which is evidence in my experience with a new team member, who questioned reporting structures rather than wanting to understand job responsibilities.

    Seeing beyond the obvious or asking good questions comes from both our human nature and the culture. I have seen children's questions dismissed or even answered to with a lie. In my own family where questioning and honesty were valued, my sibling finds deeper thinking painful, and is an executive of a major corporation with skills valued at 3-times my own salary.

    In the end we need both surface thinking and deep thinking. You don't have to be a comedian to appreciate humor. Unfortunately, in my recent experience, thinking deeper is not valued and even marginalized. Questions [ask "why" at least 5 times] which are major tools of deep thinkers are seen as challenges to authority. In my opinion, what allows deep thinking in any institution is authority figures who: ? are proud of their own accomplishments and therefore secure in themselves ? know they don't know it all and find comfort in believing they don't need to know it all ?have solid democratic principles, that is, an understanding that in the end it was "central planning" that undermined the USSR.

    In response to the correct observation that few if any of us are actually answering the question posed: by virtue of explaining why deep thinking does not occur, the answer is implied -"nothing".

     
     
     
    • Narasimhan Gopalan
    • VP, i-flex

    Cultural DNA of the organization plays a crucial role to get the managers to think deeply....and more importantly, to drive and encourage actions which result from such thinking, for the outcome of meditative thoughts often are very different from the 'normally' expected behavious of the managers. Is the organization ready to accept such managerial behaviour and encourage the people to solve problms in innovative ways? What relative importance organizations place for short term quarterly targets as against long term organizational development? It is often the case that those with bias for action, tend to be impatient to think!

    From the individual's perspective, ability to engage in contemplation and the courage to act with one's conscience forms the very foundation of the leadership style. Such actions that result are often in the larger interests of the people at large and selfless acts of the leader to bring about transformation amongst the people that leader serves. Such ability is not gained overnight as it requires enormous learning, experience and practice. I would describe such leadership style as 'Leadership with Wisdom and Conscience'.

     
     
     
    • Matthew

    To 110: AKA 96: I would like to thank you for thoughtfully answering my question. I believe that this forum will close on the 26th so I don't want to lose my oportunity to say that I would love to hear and read more about your topic of study. A list of recommended books or papers or any other thought provoking materials would be a special treat for me. My email is MatthewKidder@hotmail.com. Unfortunately this will be my last comment on this forum and I have not had enough time to digest your last comment as to give you the thoughtful response that you deserve in this late evening hour but please know that your input is and was personally appreciated.

     
     
     
    • Timothy Chan
    • Founder, Certified Consultants Network

    Deep thinking, or I called it holistic thinking, cannot do without systems thinking and critical thinking. Deep thinking is to look at the pieces for more effective planning and to create synergy. However, managers need the skills to think in systems to put the pieces togather for effective integration and control. The manager also needs "leadership intelligences", such as courage and the willingness to take risk, for effective implementation, to make critical decisions towards meaningful outcomes. These are capabilities not taught and which cannot be learned in business schools or through business books.

    One cannot think deep without thinking wide, which means the the person must be well-read, well-seen, well-listened and well-experienced. We cannot "close the doors to build a cart". Managers must not only manage by walking about but getting down to ground level to see, listen, feel and experience thr ground.

    In short, deep thinking begins with leaderships -- managers must learned to move from being a integrator to being a leader, someone who dares and have the emotional, moral and the will to take risk and accept responsibilities for change.

     
     
     
    • Jay Somasundaram
    • Systems Analyst

    A central part of deep thinking is the ability to let go and challenge an established mindset/mental model/world view... Most university graduates do not achieve this ability by the time they graduate (e.g. William Perry's work on intellectual development). Overcoming one's own mindset can be quite stressful - the individual is in a pychological sense deconstructing their own ego. It is also quite challenging socially. Deep thinking and whistle-blowing have much in common.

     
     
     
    • Ratish Nair
    • Principal Consultant, Kreativ Consulting

    Till the time we are stuck in "time" paradigm we cannot cause breakthrough thinking and results consistently. Betterment of results is predictable.

    It is quite a paradox that everything in performance environment is measured in time.

    But true, authentic thinking originates by managing "spaces". And managers who are equipped in managing "spaces" are at work in managing the spaces of the company vision unfolding.

    "Space" distinguished as one's bold declaration of results inside the vision of the company/ people whom you are accountable for.

    Breakthrough Thinking / Deep Thinking / Breakthrough Results are caused outside the time Paradigm. It lives inside of "Space."

     
     
     
    • n/a
    • Talent Talk, Talent Technologies

    This is the beginning of something (I hope) which will lead some companies appreciating the 'whole person' more than the 'labour'.

    Taking a superficial ('surface thinking') approach to most matters in companies leads not only to flawed strategies, but also:

    • employee turnover
    • disengagement
    • compartmentalisation

    Surface thinking and what Covey called 'scarcity mentality' is the one thing that most companies possess in abundance.

    By the way, with regard to Jeff Immelt: when asked what should be his fate given that he missed his targets, Jack Welch replied 'fired'!

     
     
     
    • Dhiraj Jain
    • Faculty Member, ICFAI National College, Udaipur, India

    They are not able to do so because they are made and trained to do so. The organisation always loads them with targets as a result of which they are busy saving their jobs rather than to think deeply as to how well they could do it. Only those organisations who have the power to visualise make their managers think deeply before getting on to the Jobs. The Management institutes who train them also do it in a manner that they (the students) do their job in the fastest possible manner having the least time to think. We have to introduce a method of learning where the managers are taught a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach. Jainism as well as the Geeta teaches that you can only work hard in the best possible manner .. the results are automatically going to follow. I think these theories have to be adopted in the present day management learning in order to develop better managers for tommorow.

     
     
     
    • a. walker
    • position: sitting, organization: what is "organization"?

    safely assuming that "deep thinking" can lead to thought found rewarding by industry, mr. immelt's perception of the necessity for his vow has within it the answers to the third question: Why do these kinds of effort require so much protection?

    1. generally we don't know enough about "deep thinking" to know how to approach the task - 'experimenters' must experiment (potentially wasting time) on how to think deeply, and 2. industry's precepts and practices involving 'productivity' are anti-thetical to the 'experimenting' now found necessary.

    resolving point one above will resolve its following point 2.

    so, how does one "think deeply"?

    focus is a word that describes the absence of distraction; both the word and the state relate to an element involved in "thinking deeply".

    applying the zaltman's idea of listening to metaphor, consider: "still waters run deep"; quiet inner moments, disciplined and objective but perhaps somewhat loosened-from-need, may possibly permit a thought not otherwise easily gained; then, knowing of, or sensing, louis pasture's "chance favors the prepared mind", never underestimate the unpredictable 'bolt out of the blue', or the 'quiet dawning of an idea', while otherwise normally engaged in routine. attempting to force an idea to develope may at times be necessary, but doing so should be avoided where possible.

    then there is "information"; the zaltman's point 4 (the lack of information providing deep insights on which to base deep thinking) is particularly important to forming insight's structure.

    no useless information remains useless once it has found a use; someday it may be 'just the thing' necessary to resolve something.

    information related to one's interests is most interesting to gather, and while the omnivorously interested may mostly skim, they skim far, and wide.

    but, back to managers:

    managers manage within the limits of what they manage.

    if a large percentage of managers don't "think deeply", its because they're thinking within the limits of what they manage as they manage.

    managers may therefore do well to add managing their personal development as an essential element of what they manage to manage well.

    in closing i'd like to note that the few times i've stopped by this page have provided me with the opportunity for interesting thought.

    thank you.

     
     
     
    • Paul T. Jackson
    • Consultant, Trescott Research

    a. I'm not yet convinced of the premise "why managers don't do deep thinking." I believe there are probably a lot of managers who do "deep thinking," Suzanne Langer talks about the problem of the question limiting the possible answers in her 1950s book, Philosophy in a New Key.

    b. As stated before we often ask the wrong questions. TRIZ methods are used in engineering to search out the conflicts to an optimal solution. These tools can be used as well in business, but are probably not being used as extensively either out of time constraints or just because business hasn't heard about the process.

    c. It seems that, regards to marketing, the authors have indeed done some TRIZ type of qualitative research in determining the the Seven Deep Metaphors, upon which others can build.

    d. Similar research has been done for "leadership" in the book, Success Built to Last; Creating a Life that Matters. It's possible that those who don't, if they don't, do "deep thinking" are not as highly engaged in the endeavor as those who are successful...often called leaders by others. How that happens or is going to happen, or whether, indeed, anyone can change that with certain managers, is anyone's guess.

     
     
     
    • Brian Nelson
    • Owner, ArcticLlama, LLC

    Although successful implementation of a new idea will bring the right kind of recognition to a manager, a failed or "non-quantifiable" implementation will bring far more of the wrong kind of recognition.

    The problem is that there is little or no reward to those who innovate in big business today. When something is successful those higher up will take at least partial credit diminishing the return to those who take the risk, while failure will lead to complete passing on of any blame. This paradigm actually makes it the far smarter move to not try and innovate.

     
     
     
    • SG
    • Senior IT Manager, Federal Government

    Subject: Financial Incentives for Managers to "Not Think Deeply"

    The key point I am trying to make in this post (which solely represents my personal beliefs and opinions) are that there are often significant financial rewards given to managers who "do not think deeply". Therefore, the rational manager will usually seek subject financial incentives/benefits - and deliberately choose to "not think deeply". As we know, it often requires deep analytical thought processes to "connect the dots."

    In support of my proposal, please see my rationale/observations below . . . I have been a US civil servant for almost 30 years, so my observations are based on my beliefs and perceptions as a Senior IT Project Manager.

    As a professional note, I earned two Master's degrees [ <1> MS, Computer Science from a Internationally-recognized US Ivy League University - and - <2> MBA from a major US University] while working full-time, which I paid for out of my own personal funds. I believe I am professionally qualified, both on the basis of experience and education, to make the following observations:

    1a. Most civil service managers are in a hurry - and don't want to hear or think about bad news or anything that could later become bad news. The feeling from most managers is "not on my watch". In other words, they don't want anything bad to be discovered while they are in charge - so that they can more easily move to the next promotion and/or next career opportunity.

    2a. Most civil service managers are not rewarded for finding anything wrong with the work of their predecessors or anything wrong with their own work. Therefore, they don't want anything to be discovered that constitute major infractions of law, policy, procedure, etc.

    3a. Most civil service managers are not rewarded for supporting individuals and/or organizations that discover, document, report, and can prove extensive waste/fraud/abuse within the organization. In practice, most civil service managers are rewarded for retaliating against whistle blowers and for rigidly following, in lock step formation (no pun intended) the denial of any and all wrongdoing. In essence, the civil service managers are positively rewarded for strictly adhering to the official "groupthink" position - where the "groupthink" position is often created by the top managers (including Senior Executive Service and political appointments) and directed to subordinate managers.

    4a. It has been my experience that most civil service IT managers and their subordinate IT civil service staff do not have the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to manage the primarily contractor-staffed IT technical workers. Nor do these same individuals have the personal drive and initiative that I have exhibited by earning my two Master's degrees, as referenced above. The net result of this is that, without the technical acumen to manage the contractors, these individuals rely, to an extent that is not prudent, on what the contractors say they are doing.

    5a. It has been my experience that most civil service IT managers and their subordinate IT civil service staff are promoted on the basis of "longevity", their ability to "tow the party line", and their ability to not "rock the boat". The result of this is that the system is self re-enforcing, and that places a "positive selection pressure" on those individuals who are best in adhering to "groupthink" - and that do not concern themselves with the ethics of their decisions - their primary motivation is "solely doing what is best for them under the current reward system", and not what is in the best interest of the US Government and/or US citizens.

     
     
     
    • Sethakgi Kgomo
    • Chief Execuive Officer, Nkhumishe Kgomo Management Services, Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa

    The serious difficulty in human nature is either to conform to the determined orthodoxy and thinking so that you are on the safe side of those in power over you, or you trudge an unorthodox path if independent thinking as a person and as an executive. It is the serious choice of a person to make this choice.

    Corporate conformists and corporate rebels (including those prepared to rattle the cages) coexist in every organization. The paradox of this reality is that conformists tend to be regarded as valuable members of the company as opposed to those who would pluck up the courage to challenge the established and deeply ingrained corporate orthodoxy. Conformists (including "Yes-Men") in all respects tend to be regarded as useful corporate builders because their conduct and behaviours would not constitute a threat to anyone in position of power in an organisation.

    This category of managers (called conformists) are generally rewarded not for performance, creativity and innovation to bring fresh perspectives on board, but for loyalty and conforming to the established culture in an organisation. In the long term, however these managers diminish into "dead wood" and becaue of their loyalty, good rapport with the "boss" and perhaps long years of loyalty to the firm, they are often protected from retrenchments.

    On the other hand corporate rebels, who would generally be persons of outgoing character who would be assertive to "rattle the cages" (as it were), are overlooked for promotions. The asset base (or one would call the brain-ware) resident withing corporate rebels is always there to challenge the paradigm and the so-called "tried-and-tested" methods of working, so that a firm could transform itself in pace with the fast-changing world outside. Corporate rebels are generally persons of strong conviction for change, creativity and innovation, and would never accept that the company's culture must remain unchanging. Sadly, however, the rewards for corporate rebels are not very attractive. They would be the first to jump ship when things are very bad or would face the chop when a company undergoes right-sizing process.

    My view is that in the final analysis, it would be ideal to have a mix of managers who are, on the one hand conformists, and on the other rebels. This is necessary to balance the corporate equation. The challenge for senior executive at the top of the company is how to manage these diverse group of person whose thinking is as different like chalk and cheese.

    Creativity and innovation calls for radical thinking among managers, especially in difficult times when life cycles of your products reaches a decline stage or when you organization faces a grim future of losing market share. That is the time when you needs your corporate rebels. You can thereafter then rely more on your corporate conformists when the company retreats from a difficult down-side phase.

    In conclusion, I would like to strongly argue that in any company you could classify organizations into two: "innovators: and "renovators". Organizations that thrive on corporate conformists, in my view, could be regarded as "renovators" as creativity and innovation would be less forthcoming due to the stifling company culture. Innovators are companies who would continue to edge over their competitors in employing more rebels who would infuse the require corporate energy and dynamism for innovative and creative ideas.

    Sethakgi Kgomo Chief Executive, Nkhumishe Kgomo Management Services & Investments, Johannesburg, Rep of South Africa.

     
     
     
    • Farhad Merchant
    • Sr. Manager - Strategic Initiatives, i-flex solutions

    While on the subject of how much "Deep thinking" is encouraged within each organization, there was another thought that crossed my mind. With the not-so-recent trend of mergers and acquisitions, the name of the game seems to be alignment and integration. This alignment, especially with larger and (hopefully) more matured organizations, requires the managers to work longer and harder in integrating thought processes and aligning to those requirements. This is, perhaps, the key reason for the lack of deep thinking.

    Here, I have interpreted "Deep thinking" to be for the purpose of encouraging innovation (otherwise, one can always be in 'deep thought' about the integration itself :-)).

    Having said this, I would like to encourage the following: 1. Looking at the alignment/integration as an opportunity to innovate - This means that one has to challenge the system, challenge the accepted norms in order to discover new & better ways to doing them 2. Evaluating the current processes prevalent in the existing organization against those that they are being aligned to in order to get the best of both - This would involve a detailed study of both systems in order to implement best practices and create something better than both 3. Keeping an open and alert mind while in the process of integration - This enables and fosters the spirit of Ideation

    Cheers & all the best.

     
     
     
    • Deepak P Balakrishnan
    • Brisbane- Australia

    Everyone of us think deeply, albeit to differing extents under different circumstances. And all our actions and decisions reflect the effect of this process. This can be understood by a simple analysis of our thought process. It is a wrong line of thinking to associate only creativity and change-management to deep thinking.

    While normal business decisions appear to be gleaned more from past experiences, any out-of -the -box solutions always trigger the mechanism of deep thinking and highlight its working. Let us not, get lost in the conundrum of big business rat-race and conclude that deep thinking is absent in managers.

    For sure Buddha was right about the three gross evils - greed, anger and ignorance. Get over them, and one will gain the confidence to feel and enjoy the benefits of the superconscious thinking.