A new book is on the shelves that provides an important counterpoint to popular author Malcolm Gladwell’s 2007 book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. The title—Wait: The Art and Science of Delay—pretty clearly states the view of author Frank Partnoy: i.e. That contrary to the old adage, he who hesitates may actually be saved, not lost.
I’ve only seen reviews and scanned a few pages of Wait so far, but the arguments and evidence Partnoy provides look compelling and convincing. Unlike Gladwell (who frankly often seemed to be contradicting himself in Blink), Partnoy is not pandering to the common excuses of our nanosecond-driven world to reject deliberation and reflection. He even notes that how long you wait is not always as important as at least waiting a little.
One of the keys to smart organizational change leadership is helping people move at the “right” pace. This pretty much always requires a two-pronged effort:
- Prompting more cautious, less motivated, individuals to speed up; and
- Encouraging those favoring instant action and immediate results to slow down.
Overcoming inertia in either case is not easy, but because those who promote the “get it done now” perspective are usually the higher-ups, Partnoy’s message to wait is a lot more valuable than advocating “thinking without thinking.” That’s because waiting, for people anyway, does not mean doing nothing. Our minds are still at work, and the environment around us is evolving, and in those intervals where some might be impatient, useful things can happen. (E.g. A seemingly brilliant idea will be revealed as unrealistic, or the last puzzle pieces fall into place to make a seemingly lame idea suddenly a game changer).
We’ll talk more about this subject and how it relates to the Change Leadership services we offer, but in the meantime (while we wait) I’d encourage looking into the book and offering your own thoughts on the Blink vs Wait debate.