Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Maybe I Was Into Meditation After all

Groupthink sessions have always driven me a bit nutty.  Granted, few were resourced sufficiently but unless they were my own, I can’t tell you how many retreats I had to leave early, just to maintain sanity.

I don’t know if it is the “reinvent the wheel” syndrome or “talk before you think” chirpiness that so often dominate so-called brainstorming, but I think my adverse reaction to most of these sessions is because there is typically so little patience taken to identify a common problem for which new ideas or solutions are needed.groupthink

Often I just became impatient with how averse many people are to critical thinking, to asking questions and yet how predisposed they can be to politics in the guise of groupthink.

I may be a curmudgeon but I always showed up and participated even though I couldn’t hear myself think.  Now in an article in last weekend’s New York Times Magazine entitled, In Pursuit of the Perfect Brainstorm, gave me insight into why I can still be innovative but impatient with groupthink.

It is well worth reading if you missed it.

Dev Patnaik, Founder and CEO of Jump Associates, explains that a lot of breakthroughs are born in meditative states.  Patnaik cites neuroscience backing up why some really great ideas comes to you while driving or walking the dog, or in the shower, hiking or riding a motorcycle through the countryside.

He’s quoted as saying that it is because “you’re at ease, your sense of judgment is quieted, you’re making nonlinear connections, you’re more likely to come up with good ideas.”

Bingo.  That’s when most of my own gestalts occurred during my career and still do in retirement.

I worked with some very creative people but as a CEO, I never was good at building in enough time for them to think under the circumstances Patnaik describes.  And it is all but impossible to reach a “meditative state” during groupthink sessions including staff meetings.

It is scary to think how much more innovative even organizations widely known to be innovative, such as those with which I was involved could have been if I had understood this years ago.

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