How to optimise our thinking to become more creative, more efficient, and more effective

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Photo Credit -TEDxLangley

Thinking is the process of considering or reasoning about something and “Open Thinking” is a cyclical process in which creativity is encouraged, critiquing leads to better decisions, and thoughtful action delivers positive, sustainable results, We are benefitted to have Dan Pontefract, bestselling Author of book “OPEN TO THINK”  which publishes September 11, 2018. More details about the book at www.opentothink.com

Dan Pontefract is Chief Envisioner at TELUS, a Canadian telecommunications company, where he heads the Transformation Office, a future-of-work consulting group that helps organizations enhance their corporate cultures and collaboration practices.

Q- What is your philosophy of “Open to Think”?

Individuals and organizations need a more reflective and responsive thinking mindset. Our thinking ought to be shaped by continually changing inputs and information. We should recognize that our thinking is only as good as our ability to frequently challenge and question. Better thinking is dependent on how open we are to new ideas, how evidence-based our decision-making can be, how capable we remain to get things done.In OPEN TO THINK, i introduce three phases of thinking that ought to be continuously in motion: Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, and Applied Thinking. Put differently: dream, decide, do and repeat. The interplay of these concepts sits at the heart of something I have termed “Open Thinking.”

Creative Thinking is the generation of new ideas, unleashed from constraints. Do you reflect?Critical Thinking is the thorough analysis of ideas and facts to make an ethical and timely decision. How do you decide? Applied Thinking is then the commitment to execute a decision that has been made. Will you take thoughtful action? Thus when we employ Open Thinking, we take a holistic approach of reflection, decision-making, and action to secure an ethical outcome.

Q- How can we optimize our thinking to become more creative, more efficient, and more effective?

The first is to stop over-programming your every minute of the day. We have become time bankrupt,yet the thief is ourselves.Open Thinkingrequires space and time. Find ways that permit yourmind to wander. At a minimum, stop filling up every spare minute by staring at your smartphone or continuously attending meetings. Allow yourself to “marinate in the moment” which is to ideate, brainstorm and let thoughts enter your brain. I recommend blocking out time in your calendar simply to “think.” For example, I block off the first 30 minutes of each day as well as the last 30 minutes. I also block off Friday afternoons.

The second is to listen, pay attention, and observe. Each day presents itself with new chances to learn and remark on what is directly in front of you. Open your eyes and ears to your surroundings and other people. Far too often we make ourselves so busy, so frenetic that we do not allow ourselves the opportunity to reflect on the current moment. So much can happen to you—and to permit better thinking—if you were not so distracted and unfocused.

Third, write it down. There is an unlimited amount of data and information that crosses our path every day. Our recall function is waning. I advise people to devise a method of composing notes to themselves as reminders of what pops into their mind throughout the day. One cannot remember everything, yet creative thoughts, ideas, and points to tuck away for future use can pop up at any moment. I use the application called Evernote.

Lastly, balance your reflection and action tasks. Things must get done; there is no way getting around it. Your duties and objectives must be completed. However, when we are continually doing—in a perpetual state of execution—we become imbalanced with our thinking. However, when we avoid overcommitting ourselves, we can develop situational capacity. Put simply, start balancing the act of doing by inserting more reflection time. How? Outsource the minutiae of your life. Be realisticabout what you can take onregarding objectives, meetings, and asks. Start saying no to irrelevant requests on your time.

Q- How can we reshape our thinking to eliminate bad habits and strengthen our mind for the challenges of today’s business world?

An Open Thinker not only employs Creative, Critical and Applied Thinking appropriately—and balances reflection with action—they will be aware of three other types of thinking that cause harm to themselves, and the organization’s objectives.

An Inflexible Thinker tends to jump to action without adequately reflecting. They are addicted to action, to being busy. These are some of the most stressed out people in our organizations. They suffer from being tyrants to the urgent.

An Indecisive Thinker often sits on the fence, afraid to make a decision. Other seek out too much information and data before wanting to make a decision, thus wasting precious time to move into action. Indecisive Thinkers can suffer from “paralysis by analysis,” a punishing symptom.

An Indifferent Thinker is someone who is so disengaged with their place of work, they neither want to take action nor do they want to reflect. It not only prevents Open Thinking from coming to fruition, it downright encourages anyone predisposed to remain in the status quo.

Q-What is your best piece of advice to HR professionals?

There is a crisis enveloping our organizations I called the “age of freneticism.” Executives, leaders and individual contributors have become so busy, so agitated, and so occupied with tasks that it is affecting not only productivity and engagement but the health and wellness of all employees. The data is irrefutable. Stress is up. Obesity is up. Absenteeism is up. Disengagement remains the same. It is time for HR Professionals to pay attention to the calamitous situation that is overtaking their organization. Employees are too over-programmed, too distracted, and there are too many demands on their time (emails, instant messages, social media, meetings, phone calls) that it is indeed time for a reset. The best advice is to introduce the importance of balancing Creative, Critical and Applied Thinking. Open Thinking has the opportunity toprovide the organization with more engaged employees.

Thank you Dan!

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