Dan Pontefract, Chief Envisioneer of TELUS
I discovered that many people are suffering from their thinking.
Whether via the pressures and stresses at work, a state of freneticism, the distractedness of social media and notifications, or overburdening time constraints, many of us are no longer capable of doing the heightened thinking required to be sane, engaged, and happy.
That got me down a little, to be honest. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. During my journey of research and interviews, I came across many people who had sorted out the secret sauce of thinking. Whether for themselves or including a team or organization that they were leading, these were indeed the “Open Thinkers.” These people had sorted out a way in which to balance the realities of today’s busy world with the absolute need to have space to creatively think while having the time and methodology to make better decisions.
One of my favorite discoveries was when I entered a hat millinery. I did not expect to get a hat made. I just wanted to see how milliners operated. What I stepped into was a hive of Open Thinking. There was simultaneous Creative Thinking (brainstorming, discussions, what if ’s and why not’s) with Critical Thinking (don’t do this, do this) alongside Applied Thinking (sewing, stitching, ironing, and steaming). I learned so much I decided to get a custom hat, to go through the process and experience their world first-hand. It was a glorious, hands-on experience.
The millinery was an incredible metaphor and example of Open Thinking. It was a sublime example of light, where all the dots of my research began to connect. “Open to Think” highlights not only what’s going wrong with our thinking; it provides an antidote for better thinking. It gives you the license to analyze how you currently approach your thinking and makes recommendations on what to alter.
When I noticed leaders and team members in the organizations I work with were complaining about various pressures and stresses, I began to inquire about their cause. Some of those factors led to a lack of Open Thinking.
There are far too many people who are stressed out at work and life, in part because of an incredible imbalance that they place on themselves, and an imbalance that has been placed on them, too. Time has become the enemy. We no longer use it to our advantage.
What I learned is that people who appropriately balance their time through improved Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking with the need to get things done (Applied Thinking) end up being more engaged, innovative, productive and, happier.
It is possible to win back your time, your thinking, your life.
The model found in the book “Open to Think” is a simple one: Dream, Decide, Do Repeat. It serves as a reminder that when we balance the three categories of thinking, we are far better off. I hope it provides ideas, solutions, and techniques to help you (or your team) to become better at daily thinking.
—Pontrefact is the author of “Open to Think” his third book. “Flat Army” and “The Purpose Effect” were his previous titles tackling workplace collaboration and meaningful work. View Dan’s TEDTalk at https://youtu. be/sQSFW8HWVFg Dan is also Chief Envisioner of TELUS, a four-time Learning! 100 award-winning organization.