Thoughts on Meaning & Devaluing Reflection

By Daniel Forrester, CEO

Meaning isn’t rapidly manufactured given the single-tasking (not multitasking) capabilities of the human mind. Meaning unveils itself over time. Context is richer as we drive farther away and see more and more detail in the rearview mirror. Not that we shouldn’t make rapid decisions; sometimes we should, as immediacy does have its virtues. However, decisions of high consequence can’t always be made in the blink of an eye. Ideas are hatched by people granted some time alone with their thoughts. Ideas must then be collaboratively shepherded through group dynamics, where they are allowed to marinate and often emerge as something totally new.

The problems facing organizations today are too large in scope to be owned by any one individual. Big ideas are contemplated by few only to be implemented by many. If an organization and its leaders don’t value the time necessary to think through a solution to a problem, the organization will likely flounder and prove irrelevant. The world has too many people thinking simultaneously about the same problems. Others will commandeer the idea and its implementation should you fail to step back and properly consider it before jumping into action mode to implement it.

Darryl V. Poole is founder and chief strategist of the Cambridge Institute for Applied Research, Inc. He advises CEOs and leaders around the world on underlying trends in technology and corporate governance and on the implications of the stresses brought upon organizations by globalization. Poole believes the immediate consequence of devaluing reflection is that those individuals who more easily succumb to technology are directed by those who take the time to practice reflection. He says, “Those who do not reflect become subject to the rule of those who do. Reflection is personal and true reflection can be painful. Those who do not reflect allow themselves to become very willing participants in a technology addiction that seemingly relieves them of the responsibility TO reflect.”

In our culture of immediacy, we can easily solve the wrong problems with great speed. Solving the wrong problems can take our teams, customers, and partners in directions that make little sense. This often means that we are justifying a set of destructive behaviors.

For additional information on “Meaning” and “Reflection” check out this podcast interview with our CEO, Daniel Forrester, on The Engaging Brand.

**This article has been excerpted and adapted from Daniel Forrester’s book Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization, published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2011.

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