To make good decisions in the workplace, which we have to do with great frequency, we need to be able to call upon our thinking strengths. Yet, do we know what they are? Do we stretch our ability to think and challenge ourselves to think differently? We need to think about how we think.
Personally I think best when I am not sat alone in an office; some of my best thinking is done when out walking around where I live (see picture below). Obviously I can’t always get out for a walk so I need to be flexible and have different ways of thinking that I can call on in different situations.
Thinking is how we collect and process information and make sense of the wealth of stimuli around us. In the workplace we are constantly needing to think about many different things. Different issues and different types of situations may call for us to think differently.
Different ways of thinking are open to us all. The starting point is to understand our thinking strengths – those ways of thinking that engage and energise us – the ones that appeal and that we enjoy – using them will lead to our best thinking.
Knowing your thinking strengths is the start point; you can then stretch and develop different ways to suit the situation, so helping you to be more flexible in how you think.
What follows are a few questions to help you think about how you think.
Do you like thinking about the big picture or focus on the here-and-now?
Are you drawn to considering the detail of an issue or taking an overview?
Are you the one to quickly spot an error or the one who looks for overall meaning?
Do you think through tried and tested approaches or open up to new possibilities?
I mentioned liking to go for long walks to think; this may well be when I have some options and need to make a decision. In some situations my best thinking is done with others, testing out ideas and talking through possibilities. This approach will draw out my thinking strength of creativity – I can bounce off others and engage with their ways of seeing the issue.
In the workplace high quality thinking and decisions are fundamental. Without effective thinking we may miss vital information, fail to appreciate the impact of a decision and not explore the full range of options available to us. A failure to think well can be costly; it can be the difference between success and failure.
In a hectic work schedule are you like Bob Dylan? “There’s no time to think” (Street Legal album). For me, time and space brings clarity and depth to my thinking. How do you ensure that you get that valuable space to think?
By thinking about how I think I know my thinking strengths and can apply them appropriately in different situations. I hope that this short blog has got you thinking about how you think.
For some, coaching is the great space for thinking differently. The coach will challenge assumptions, patterns of thinking and encourage different options to be considered. For others, thinking with colleagues is the most productive, creating creative space for new ideas to emerge. The important point is to think about thinking.