Quote of the month: "We can do only what we think we can do. We
can be only what we think we can be. We can have only what we think we
can have. What we do, what we are, what we have, all depend upon what
we think." Robert Collier
Closing the Thinking Gap
Briefings ideas that work
We were dismayed recently when we read these results from a Kepner-Tregoe
Inc. survey of 641 managers and 773 hourly workers:
- Almost two-thirds of both managers and workers said their organizations
use 50% or less of the workforce’s brainpower.
- More than 50% of workers and 40% of managers said employees get no
training to improve thinking skills. Also, 25% of the managers do not
receive such training.
Despite our dismay, we see this as a platinum opportunity for these managers
and employees to develop their skills and increase their value to an organization.
In fact, that’s exactly what many employers expect under the new workplace
contract. So here are our suggestions on what you can do to correct or
prevent this thinking gap:
- Become known as the "remember when" person on your staff who campaigns
against "we’ve always done it that way" thinking. To do so, collect
and present evidence of how previous decisions that did not ask for,
or ignored, staff thoughts wasted time and money. Note: This
may make you unpopular at first. But if you stick to it, you could become
known as the "saved us from doing something stupid again" person.
- Allocate a chunk of training dollars to hire an expert to conduct
a workshop or a series of workshops on critical thinking. But don’t
settle for a theoretical approach. Have both managers and workers list
real problems they face. Then, insist that the expert use these problems
to train the staff to think critically.
- Become a champion of a "one process fits all" approach to dealing
with critical issues. Everyone, from top management to those on the
front lines, should know and use the same process to solve problems
and make decisions. Reason: You’ll save valuable time and and
eliminate conflict if everyone is on the same wavelength.
- Wear a thinking cap instead of a critic’s hat. But don’t expect that
donning new headgear will be easy. It’s simpler, of course, to blame
somebody rather than working with your co-workers to find a better way
to proceed. Thinking is hard work, and it takes time-perhaps some of
your own when you’re not at work.
- Do what more and more of today’s employees do. Take responsibility
for your own training if your organization cannot or will not offer
it. Check out nearby colleges or universities for a critical thinking
course. Or sign up for a one-day workshop. The knowledge will pay off
in the long run.
- Make sure you’re not working from a limited blueprint that tells you
only what you, your group or your business unit is doing. Instead, redraw
it to reflect a vision of what the entire organization is doing. Reason:
"Seeing the bigger picture" can help you uncover something unexpected
that could lead to a dynamic idea to improve things in your organization,
and in you.
Source: Jack Gillespie and Joe McGavin, Communication Briefings,