A colleague forwarded me this excellent article written by Jack Trout on how most of us have No Time To Think. Trout is the author of many marketing classics, including one of my personal favorites ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing’ which describes the First Mover Advantage.
In No Time to Think, Trout claims we’ve become “a world of reactors, not thinkers” and that technology exacerbates this problem. Technology was supposed to make us more productive but the opposite seems to have happened. It would be hard from me to argue — while I’m writing this, both my desk and cell phone have rung and and multiple emails have shown up in my inbox. (Focus, Jonathan.)
Trout argues that distractions cause people to head in the wrong direction. To illustrate his point, he tells the following story from his days at General Electric:
I was in a conference room with a crusty old marketing manager and describing a strategy to sell more electric motors. He was not looking at my flip chart. He was looking out the window.
Suddenly, he noticed my discomfort. He said, “Kid, put that presentation away. Our problem isn’t out there in the market–it’s here in this building. Show me a presentation that can get every son-of-a-bitch in this building pointed in the same direction, and we can flatten anything out there.”
It’s a lesson I never forgot.
Although he doesn’t use the term, Trout talking about lack of alignment and the need for prioritization. We should all take a few minutes every day to think about whether we’re being strategic or just reacting to what’s around us. While I’ve frequently commented we should focus on outcomes instead of activities, we also need to ensure we’re working on what’s important and not just what’s urgent.