The Death of Thought

A wise friend one told me that when bad stuff happens, the least we can do is learn from it. Now that our economy is beginning to recover, it is a good time to reflect on what happened, why, and what we, as individuals, could have done better. I wrote this article with that in mind.

Once upon a time, we were rewarded for the clarity and depth of our thought. I do not wish to reminisce about the past, but the value of thought seems to have diminished or disappeared.

In meetings, we spend most of our time discussing personal and professional objectives, constructing agenda, devising action items, and congratulating each other for a job well done. We take care to limit discussion and maintain focus. There simply is no time to question, no time to explore. Just keep moving.

I recognize that speed is the order of the day and that success requires the coordinated efforts of large numbers of people from a variety of disciplines. Does this mean that we no longer have the luxury of thinking things through?

What about the value of spirited discussion, sharing ideas, playing with thoughts, and generating new and better approaches? Do our structured processes allow for these? Can we still engage in creative disagreement, or are we too fearful of saying something negative or questioning closely held values?

Instead, we have become champions of hot trends and breakthrough concepts. We construct Big, Hairy, and Audacious Goals (BHAG), organize Tiger teams, and when all fails, organize and store our thoughts in electronic databases.

Times change and hopefully we can learn to better balance our doing with productive thinking.