On the Importance of Not Thinking

I’m sure there’s a number of academic texts, TED talks and management or innovation books about the importance of NOT thinking to creativity and innovation.

I haven’t seen any of them.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with problem solving. I love solving them. My managers hate HOW I solve them.  When I hit a thorny knot, I bypass it. When I’m stuck, I just stop thinking about the problem, put it down and work on something else.  Whether it’s a creative or technical task, I’ve always found that if a key insight doesn’t come right away, I have to stop and just let me head take it over, while I focus on something else. I’ve as yet to be let down.

High Speed

High Speed

Sometimes what pops back is the entirety of the answer. Sometimes it’s a window into it. Rarely, it’s nothing, which – after 2-3 days, indicates I need more data to crunch the problem. Or the problem is ill-defined. I’ve learned that rarely is the answer “it can’t be done.”  The answer is always yes. The solution comes down to time and money.

I have NO insight into what’s going on, but I can say it’s not a black box. It’s more of a gray box where I look into from time to time as the problem is crunched away. While it’s a bit of a mystery, I’ve just chalked it up to how my head works through knots.  While I do recognize that there’s a pell-mell push in today’s world where everything is mach schnell, I draw comfort – and inspiration – from speakers that have recognized – we have to slow down.

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2 thoughts on “On the Importance of Not Thinking

  1. Interesting approach to problem solving sir. I would say this akin to using intuition? Tapping into the power of the brain’s subconscious computing power, while using the conscious for the easy stuff? I like it – it is using the full power of the brain, and is efficient. I have to think on this some more….or sleep on it and come back to it later with more clear thoughts…

    • Sam Adams says:

      HA! Well said. I’ve always thought of intuition as being more of an in-the-moment flash of insight or feel than what I’ve described, but you raise a good point. I’ll have to sleep on it too! Maybe a power nap.

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