FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, March 17, 2006

To Succeed in Business, Goof Off!

Are you working longer hours, giving up weekends and holidays, yet feel like you're less productive than ever? Have you ever agonized over a problem for hours at work, only to have the solution suddenly dawn on you while driving home, in the shower or drifting off to sleep? If so, it's not just your imagination...

Increasingly, management experts are cautioning that overwork is counterproductive, that multitasking and the always-on society are robbing us of the necessary time to unplug, reflect, ponder and play. Such periods of unhurried thinking are what lead to creative insights -- the insights that will give businesses their competitive edge in the coming years.

The late, great Peter Drucker spoke of such need to incubate innovative thinking four decades ago in his seminal work The Effective Executive and subsequent writings. "All one can think and do in a short time is to think what one already knows and to do as one has always done," he wrote. "To be effective, every knowledge worker, and especially every executive... needs to dispose of time in fairly large chunks. To have small dribs and drabs of time at his disposal will not be sufficient even if the total is an impressive number of hours." Touche!

Today's management gurus are dusting off Drucker's advice and are encouraging organizations to nurture creativity by allowing employees more time for strategic thinking and relaxation. They cite Google, which pampers its workers with stress-reducing amenities, and where innovations have been developed by staff in their off hours. They also note celebrated thinkers such as Archimedes and Isaac Newton, whose great insights were famously triggered during moments of leisure.

Source: CNN/Money