[LINK] Time to Think

Jenny Millea jmillea at educationau.edu.au
Mon Sep 14 13:11:28 AEST 2009

Thinking alone (at the desk without interruption) and then thinking with a group: collaborative technologies enable you to do the latter.

Quoting from an article that has quoted from a book by a guy who's read a lot of other books and thought about them made me think ;-)

<snip> The Wisdom of Crowds, written in 2002 by James Surowiecki, the economics correspondent of The New Yorker. He argues that large groups hold a collective wisdom. They are always smarter than individual experts at solving problems, or even anticipating the future. His thesis is counter-intuitive, because it has always been assumed that crowds gravitate towards the mean, the mediocre middle.
No, says Surowiecki, who studied popular culture, psychology, mass marketing, artificial intelligence, military history, game theory and even ant biology in preparing the book. ''If you have a factual question, the best way to get a consistently good answer is to ask a group. They are also surprisingly good at solving problems.
''Experts, no matter how smart, only have limited amounts of information. They also have biases. It's very rare that one person can know more than a large group of people.''
Ref http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/in-google-we-trust-our-new-faith-20090906-fcqb.html?page=2 </snip>

Many people using twitter, sms and other communication/collab technologies use them for just this purpose. They help them think...

-----Original Message-----
From: link-bounces at mailman1.anu.edu.au [mailto:link-bounces at mailman1.anu.edu.au] On Behalf Of Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sent: Friday, 11 September 2009 4:17 PM
To: link
Subject: [LINK] Time to Think

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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