The thinking break
The story narrates that a factory was going on loss each year and each quarter. The factory owner was not particularly happy with the local management as the owner was overseeing things remotely. To find out the facts and look for a new leader for the factory, the owner paid a surprise visit. This time rather than doing a board meeting in which managers would impress the owner through dancing power points, the owner decided to do the visit disguised as a worker. The owner moved around the factory floor to see workers were rally putting energy into their work, so the thought of the problem at management end strengthened. The owner then walked through factory’s General Manager and all other Managers room and observed what they were doing. The General Manager was very busy and had a pile of papers on his desk along with some decision making going through as more than one subordinates were there to discuss pressing issues. All the other managers looked similar and very busy dealing with day to day stuff except for one manager. That manager was sitting in the chair leaning backward and his legs stretched over the table and was in some deep thought.
(the actual photo is here: http://www.masterfile.com/stock-photography/image/641-01518494/Businessman-leaning-back-in-chair-feet-on-table )
The owner next day announced that thinking Manager will be the new leader of the factory stating that the “real job of management is to think and not to work”. And your guess is right that the factory’s losses started vanishing and it became profitable in a few quarters.
This story I heard from my father (who spent over 40 years in management roles) on more than one occasions, when I was a student, when I graduated and started my first job, and when I started to manage stuff. Whether the story is real or not does not matter here as the message is a real one and a clear one.
So here is my question to all the managers (including people managers, project managers, test managers, …): How much time you spend on thinking? I’m hoping but the answer could be not much as we are busy dealing with day-to-day stuff. So here is a suggestion that works for me and might work for you; take a thinking break here and there.
Yes along with lunch break, coffee break, tea break, smoke break, chit-chat break, nature call break, add one more break to your work. The thinking break. I’m not inventing something new rather reinforcing an existing advice from executive coaches.
Unfortunately the open cubicle style that normally exists in most of software development places is not conducive for thinking jobs. What I would normally do is take a walk based upon the science that walking helps thinking. Or even a thinking day as my friend Ather suggests in this post. The other idea is to book conference room for some time and sit there and rather than doing a boring meeting yet again, do your thinking job. See more thoughts from others or simply search for thinking break.
Do you have other ideas on how to take a thinking break?