[LINK] Time to Think

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Fri Sep 11 16:16:48 AEST 2009

It's Friday afternoon , so a bit of reflection might be in order.

It seems to me that it's not amount of information and the speed you get 
it that matters, it's the time you spend thinking about it that is 

Tweeting, SMS and technologies like Gov 2.0 may be fun, but I'm 
wondering about their usefulness.

Maybe I'll think about it over the weekend.

Time to Think
Published, June 30, 2009
Department of the [USA] Navy

I recently attended the Current Strategy Forum hosted by the Naval War 
College in Newport, RI. The Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval 
Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps all spoke along with many 
prominent scholars and authors. The discussion was about maritime 
strategy and its intersection with both national security and the world 
economy. I am always in awe when I am in the presence of such 
magnificent leaders. It truly is the time to sit, listen and learn.

During this conference, CNO Adm. Gary Roughead said senior leaders 
should take the time to think -- really think. Leaders are charged with 
developing strategies to solve issues on a large scale, he said, and 
need time to process information and weigh all available options. I was 
struck by this as I have heard former CNOs Vernon Clark and Michael 
Mullen make similar statements.

I have strongly advocated to my staff taking time to think. And it 
dawned on me, how much time during my normal week do I spend thinking 
about the future and how best to shape the Department's path to becoming 
more connected and more effective in delivering information? As I am 
thinking and strategizing about the future, what information do I need 
to inform my thoughts and decisions? And how do I normally access the 
information I need to make decisions and to strategize?

Then I thought about one of my first bosses in the Department. He 
believed that you had to be at your desk "doing something" in order to 
be productive. Imagine smoke coming from my pencil point as I feverishly 
worked some problem. Had I been sitting there thinking about next steps 
for my project, he might have seen me as daydreaming or goofing off. I 
imagine that had the Internet been widely available at that time, he 
would have viewed searching for information as unproductive web surfing. 
But walking the corridors of the tech library -- an inefficient exercise 
to say the least -- would not have been in his opinion.

Some experts say that managers should spend 30 percent to 40 percent and 
senior executives upwards of 60 percent to 70 percent of their time 
thinking through strategies. In fact, the more senior one becomes, the 
more important strategic thinking becomes.

I am constantly reminded by my staff just how busy my schedule is. But I 
did pause to reflect on how much time I spend thinking, and suffice it 
to say, it is not as much as I should.

The arrival of the Information Age has accelerated our ability to access 
information via the Internet and other digital resources, process it and 
take appropriate actions faster and more effectively than ever before. 
In fact, information overload is a real issue today that did not exist 
in the 1970s, 1980s and even the 1990s. The paradox of spending time 
thinking while considering vastly more information sometimes boggles the 
mind. As IT leaders in the Department, our value is founded in our 
ability to spend the right amount of time thinking and then putting 
strategies in motion to execute and ensure that mission outcomes are 

So, are we spending too much time answering email and attending 
meetings? And does thinking get worked in to your day-to-day schedule? 
What do you think?


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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