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The art of balancing thinking and doing.

Tomorrow, Friday 29th of April, is the due date for yet another essay, which btw is all finished and ready for submission. The topic …. leading strategic decision making. Several topics were tutored upon, but one in particular caught my attention, which I wanted to share in this blog.

There is this misconception that consultants and entrepreneurs are the ultimate “doers” of the world. Bold actions and the fast decisions are often glorified, obscuring the subtle parts of the “thinking” that is needed to ensure that things are done right and effective. The observation that many consider ‘doing’ more valuable is one of the main reasons why teams become ineffective.

There is much information on how to “think” (decision making frameworks, lean principles, design thinking etc.) and how to “do” (design books, articles on writing well, presentation tips). But there’s little about how to balance the two. And balancing the two is key! The best professionals are incredible thinkers, effective doers and great at balancing both!

People spend one portion of their productive time thinking and the other doing. Thinking activities are activities such as identifying customer problems, designing a strategy, mapping a process, understanding metrics, etc. “Doing” activities are activities such as giving presentations, writing proposals, writing specifications, etc.

Max Bennett converted the dilemma, balancing thinking and doing, into a formula. He argues that one should always optimize for expected outcomes.

𝙴𝚡𝚙𝚎𝚌𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝙾𝚞𝚝𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚎𝚜 = [𝙿𝚛𝚘𝚋𝚊𝚋𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚢 𝚘𝚏 𝚋𝚎𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚛𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝] 𝚡 [𝙰𝚖𝚘𝚞𝚗𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚜𝚝𝚞𝚏𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚐𝚎𝚝𝚜 𝚍𝚘𝚗𝚎].

The [probability of being right] is accomplished through thinking, and the [amount of stuff that gets done] is accomplished through doing.

Balancing “thinking” and “doing” is no easy task, but simply knowing that balance is what you should strive for. Avoid glorifying “thinking” or “doing” on their own.

How do you know if you are balanced?
• You focus on results. You describe your achievements in terms of the results you have achieved, not in terms of the tasks you have completed. This implies that you are taking action.
• You work hard, but you also say “no” if there is more work than you can handle. This implies you are focused on doing a few of the right things, instead of letting yourself get stretched too thin, and hence do many wrong things.

Ideas in organisations can take many routes to fruition. One of the crucial thinking activities in any organisation is to establish the best route for an idea to take (thinking), to act upon the route (doing) and consequently give it the best chance of getting executed.

Ps … check out my sketchnote 😉

#doing#thinking#balancingthetwo#hummingbirds and #dragonflies

Peggy is a Lean Six Sigma master black belt at heart, a people’s people and bridge builder. I’ve worked at large multinationals in service and production industry. I am creative,analytic with a touch of geek. I have two lovely princesses, a wonderful husband and we live in sunny Curaçao