In most jobs, you’re not paid to think. Yours might be an exception.
It’s not just jobs. Throughout our lives, thinking has rarely been encouraged or rewarded. From a young age, what was rewarded was obedience. Eat your food. Stop crying. Sit up straight.
At school, we weren’t rewarded for thinking. We were rewarded for memorising. An algebraic formula, the periodic table, the event that triggered the Battle of Hastings. The reward was a pass.
In our first job, we were rewarded for executing tasks. File these, sort these, insert these, find these. Our reward was a regular salary.
With time, more experienced staff members taught us how things were done. We learnt the organisation’s procedures and processes, sometimes established through trial and error, more often by directive.
We became expert at our chosen career. We could perform each function faster and faster, subconsciously, in our sleep. Without thinking.
Most of us aren’t paid to think. We’re paid to perform. Grow the business, increase production, improve profit, gain a competitive advantage.
We’ve always been rewarded for results, so it’s results that we focus on right through our careers – right to the top. CEOs and Directors get rewarded for results. Their bonuses are often linked to them.
There’s a disconnect between thinking and results. Thinking isn’t given the credit it deserves.
So, for a moment, let’s examine what would happen if we were encouraged to think.
First of all, we’d question the questioner. What’s the reason for the question? Is it the right question? Is there bias? Have we pre-empted the outcome?
We’d seek to understand behaviours. Why does our audience think that way? Why do customers do that? What’s the consequence? What else do they do?
To really understand the power of thinking, consider a few outcomes that have been proved to result from an emphasis on creative thinking.
- Staff engagement. Research shows that staff whose creativity is valued are more engaged in their jobs.
- Productivity. More engaged staff are more productive.
- Happiness. Research shows that staff who feel creative freedom are happier.
- Reduced absenteeism. Happier staff take fewer sick days.
- Innovation. Creative thinking is the first stage of innovation. Innovation comes in many forms – product idea, product design, product manufacture, product distribution, process simplification, customer communication.
- Profitability. Better staff engagement, increased productivity and innovation boosts the bottom line.
- Recruiting. An organisation with a reputation for valuing creative thinking, for happiness and for innovation finds it easy to attract the best candidates.
- Retention. People want to stay in an organisation that values their ideas.
- Sales. Customers want to be associated with a creative and innovative brand. They want to buy what you’re selling.
- Brand ambassadors. Happy staff and customers extoll the virtues of your organisation and your product. That’s free marketing.
Inside every organisation are people whose creative genius is dying to get out. Helping them to unleash their inner Leonardo da Vinci helps them to help you.
Each of us has received enough thanks in our lives for completing an assigned task on time. What we crave and need is to be thanked for thinking. We’ll reward you by making your organisation happier, more profitable and more competitive.