Alexander Lumber | Champaign, IL

Clear your schedule - It's time to think!

Craig Fields | with 0 Comments

Clear your schedule - It's time to think!

Remember the days of elementary school? Back then, you had all the time in the world to daydream, and you could take as much time as you needed to really think about how you were going to do something before you actually did it. I certainly remember spending some (okay, most) of my days in school paying more attention to what was going on outside the classroom windows than to what my teacher had to say about the rules of English grammar. Alright, maybe you liked English, but you know what I’m getting at – I think we all remember a time when taking time to think actually existed.
I recently read an article by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner called, “The importance of scheduling nothing.” In the article, he argues the importance of taking time out of your day to plan for what’s ahead that day or even to look further to what’s in store for your organization. Many individuals in today’s workforce are focused almost entirely on the here and now – identifying immediate issues and coming up with immediate solutions. That kind of thinking is definitely important, but what happens when that’s as far ahead as we look? When we don’t take time for the future, how is our organization impacted?
Organizations today do typically spend time at strategic planning or brainstorming sessions once or twice a year, and I’m not discounting those gatherings at all. But is that enough? I remember a professor from college who started preparing our class for the final exam on the first day of class. She outlined key topics that would be covered throughout the course, and we revisited those topics regularly to make sure everyone understood those ideas before moving forward. By the time the end of the semester rolled around, we didn’t have to spend time cramming for the final exam because constantly revisiting the key topics had prepared us.
After reading Jeff’s comments, I’m convinced that this whole idea of scheduling nothing is not only important for individuals, but it’s essential for organizational health too. If our companies took more time to think about strategy on a regular basis, wouldn’t our organizations be better? Just like my college course, strategic planning for an organization needs to be more than a once or twice a year cram session – organizational strategy needs to be a top priority that’s revisited constantly.
MSA, like other organizations, has a formal strategic planning process, but our teams probably don’t spend enough time engaging in regular strategic planning. People within our organization spend time collaborating on a daily, project-by-project basis to make sure we deliver the results our clients expect, but I’m not sure our teams place the same emphasis on strategizing for long-term success, beyond the completion of their next project. Taking time to do nothing except think and plan for long-term vitality should be a daily priority for each of us. So, the next time you see someone sitting back, staring out a window, don’t pass judgment – maybe they’ve scheduled nothing so they can strategize and prepare for the future.

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