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The lost art of thinking
The perceived pace of the digital world has driven most organisations to put speed of delivery at the top of their priority list. Fast has…
The perceived pace of the digital world has driven most organisations to put speed of delivery at the top of their priority list. Fast has become the imperative, but working at pace is not the same as working as fast as you can.
by Mark Wilson, Founder Partner, Wilson Fletcher
It’s remarkable to see how few have achieved the magic combination of pace and quality, and how many have continued to put getting things done over getting things right. We still regularly see new product development programmes driven by speed and ability to deliver, at the expense of quality.
Genuinely differentiated ideas and strategically-motivated decisions are being lost day in, day out. I believe that’s because they’re not only taking too little time to think and reflect, they’ve actually forgotten why it’s important and even how to do it.
Good ideas take time to form. Turning good ideas into great concepts takes even longer and time to think is a critical component of that process. Sleeping on an idea can turn it from the best idea ever to the dumbest. Taking the time to think can make the difference between taking the right path and hurtling into a cul-de-sac.
Everything seems to be fitting into a framework and it’s putting a straitjacket on the most important attribute of innovation: thinking.
How many people involved in new product development, digital product management or innovation programmes can honestly say that these programmes have built in enough time to think. How many can say that they genuinely stepped back throughout the process to reflect on the process and ask whether it is achieving its real aims?
Who has said “hang on, slow this down, we need to think about this properly before we move on”? How many of you really believe that you gave enough thought to each of the critical decisions that needed to be made in the last thing you did?
Thinking is becoming a lost art, an undervalued and underused component of most programmes of work that lead to new, or improved, products and services. Loose, unstructured, creative thinking is essential to any strategy, design or delivery process. You don’t just need to do it at the beginning, you need to do it at every step.
Everything seems to be fitting into a framework these days and it’s putting a straitjacket on the most important attribute of innovation: thinking.
Stepping back, pondering, sleeping on the issue, taking stock, chewing on the problem: call it what you like, you just need to make sure it’s done.
To be clear, this is not a problem that is unique to a world riddled with projects built upon agile methodologies. All methods and processes are designed to bring predictability to the activity they’ve been shaped for. Waterfall, agile — they can all work and can all fail. Most critically for the success of any initiative, they can all deliver a solution that is less innovative than it should be — waterfall by focusing too big, agile by focusing too small.
I’d argue that a lack of inventive ideas or novel solutions is always a failure of thinking, not process. Process maybe getting in the way, but thinking is the missing ingredient.
The message here is simple: no matter what your process dictates, don’t be afraid to change it. Take time to think properly and it will make all the difference.