Monday, August 1, 2016

For Your Consideration

I have been thinking -- about thinking.

Sometimes, at my current job, I have moments where it probably looks like I'm not doing anything. My primary function, though, is to write, and in order to write, you have to think. Sometimes thinking looks like doodling. Sometimes it looks like staring into space. Sometimes, for me, it looks like drinking tea and air-drumming along with the radio because I'm an air rock star. (Obviously.) The point I'm making here, though, is that in order to do my job I have to be able to think about what I'm doing, and sometimes thinking doesn't look like very much.

I was considering this in light of one of my previous jobs, where my supervisor thought that you needed to be doing something every moment. This person liked to proclaim, with some regularity, that breaks were at their discretion, and that they would determine if you really needed one. However, this person ALSO frequently complained that none of the people who worked under them was really an independent thinker -- there was no innovation of process or procedure coming from any of the people who worked under them.

I had yet another previous employer who used to like to say that we -- the people who reported to him -- needed to take the time to think about the "big ideas" and that he would give us an hour every day just to think. However, he would change his mind about that and ask us why we hadn't produced this report or answered that email in the hour that was supposed to be spent "just thinking" OR he would tell us that our thoughts were incredibly stupid and that none of our ideas were worth anything. (There's a reason I call him Crazy Boss...)

The thing is, though, that in order to innovate or create, you have to have the time to think. You have to be able to step outside of your process and procedure and think about it: why it functions the way it does. How that function could be improved. Why it SHOULD be improved. In order to be creative, you have to have the time for creative thought. You need a break. You need to be able to air drum or stare into space or whatever getting lost in your thoughts looks like for you, if only for a couple of minutes, so that you can start to put together ideas.

I know that I'm lucky to have a job where not only do I get the time I need to think about how to best complete things but where I'm encouraged to do so. I know that's rare -- but should it be? Shouldn't all employees be encouraged to think about how they can best contribute, and given the opportunity to both do and share that thinking? Is it benefitting anyone if there is no ability for everyone in an organization to have the chance to speak up about how to make it better?

I don't know.

But I'm thinking about it.

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