Drucker: Stop to Think

Ok. Put on your helmet and let’s go. We will now take our first step in the Peter Drucker adventure. That first step is to re-think how we use time.


Our ability to create great thoughts— for example to figure out what to sell —  depends on having the capacity to use our conscious thought.  So far so good. But this capacity is not ready made. In other words, we can be conscious but not able to generate great ideas — or any ideas at all. I don’t know about you, but I have had that experience. And it is very frustrating. And when it happens, it seems that there is no way to get started at all.

Time to give up? Not at all. We need to re-think how we are going about addressing the problem. Drucker argues that ideas don’t just pop up. Before we can expect to see value, we need to build the capacity. Not directly (like staring at the wall and trying to will your brain into action) but indirectly. By developing the right conditions for your brain to work. The first condition is a better use of time.

So here is the key question

How well do you use your time to generate ideas?

In order to generate ideas, you need to engage the right side of the brain. But, as John Cleese informs us, the right side of the brain has no sense of time. It cannot function according to the clock. To get it going, we need to give it a “big chunk” of time where nothing happens. And we need to do this regularly so that the right side gets used to being engaged.

So, let’s re-phrase that question. Do you every day give yourself a big chunk of time solely devoted to generating ideas?

For most of us (me included for huge portions of my life) the answer is a resounding “no”.

And so we routinely underestimate how important time is in engaging our creative capacities in the brain. Worse still, as Peter Drucker points out, time is the one resource that we cannot replenish. Even worse still, it is a resource that it is difficult to see. We experience the passage of time, but we cannot see the thing itself. And so we take it for granted.

So here are a few take away ideas from Peter

1. Time as a resource – treat it that way. (This is pretty standard advice these days in productivity writing).

2. We need to give chunks of time over to the right side of the brain on a regular basis to engage our creative capacities — or we won’t develop them.

3. We can practice this by keeping track of whether we do this each day.

4. As we value time more, we can “prune away” time wasters.

But, what do we do when we are thinking about getting creative? Just sit there? Well, not really. Stay tuned! The answer to that question is coming up next.

More on creativity —  Richard Florida notes that the “creative class” will be the most prosperous. They have a strength that will be well paid


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