As I read Adam Smith Esq.’s post of January 17th, Critical Thinking II, I started thinking about how difficult it is for library directors to do the thinking they need to do in order to provide the services their firms will need in the future.
Adam Smith Esq.’s post references a Harvard Business School Working Knowledge article titled Why Don’t Managers Think Deeply? Among other reasons, the article suggests that we don’t always have the time needed to think deeply. As a former law firm library director, I’ve experienced that lack of time to think and know how it can damage creativity.
I would go from meeting to meeting, using my Blackberry during meetings, answering library staff questions in-between those meetings and working from home at night. As the speed of the internet got faster and the amount of information and lawyer expectations grew, I found it more and more difficult to make time to think beyond what was needed today while that was just what I needed to keep moving ahead.
I know of other library and information resources directors who are currently in the same situation. Putting out one fire after another while, the house continues to burn. It’s difficult to be strategic leader when you are continuously working as a firefighter.
If time is one of the elements needed for deep thinking, how do we find it? Anyone who knows me well will tell you I am not an expert on time management. Far from it. That said, I could tell you something I’ve discovered since becoming self-employed. Setting aside time to think everyday is more strategic than you may have thought.
Once I slowed down from the minute-by-minute time pressures we all know exist in law firms, I had a bit of an epiphany. The harder I worked the further I got behind. You can read all of the books and articles on finding time to fit everything you have to do in, but I won’t be joining you. I’m tired of trying to find time to think.
The only way to have time to think is to take it. If that means grabbing a Coke, finding a bench and sitting in the sun to watch the world around you, or going to a movie on a Saturday afternoon, or taking time to have lunch with colleagues who challenge you to think, do it.
Deep thinking comes with having the time to read, listen to music, engage in discussions, and more. It doesn’t always have to look like work. Much like Dr. House on the FOX drama with the same name (House), you can find the answer to questions simply by bouncing a ball off your office wall. Well, maybe not in the library, but you hopefully get what I mean.