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Business Insights from Andrea Hill

In a world that pits thinking against doing, doing seems to win out every time.

I Think I Do

Originally Published: 07 August 2007
Last Updated: 31 October 2020

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Now that I am back in business for myself, I am busily trying to follow all my own business advice. The one thing I am finding it difficult to do is figure out what needs my customers have. The preferred guidance on this topic is to develop a list of unmet or poorly met needs, and see what insights emerge. If I can’t figure out a better way to do this myself, I’m going to have to stop handing out this advice.
The truth is, it’s hard to focus in this way. It’s far more tempting to sit down and do something tangible, like answer email, return phone calls – even filing! But to sit and focus on things that seem, well, imaginary, is difficult to do. Yet it’s one of the most important aspects of business discipline to master.
In a world that pits thinking against doing, doing seems to win out every time. A girlfriend of mine says that’s because it’s a man’s world, and men would rather do than think (sorry guys – just repeating what I heard here). I actually suspect (note, I did not say “think”) that all of us would rather do. It’s more gratifying. We know it pays the bills. And it’s so much easier!
In a perfect world, we would set aside at least 25% of our time each day for thinking. Thinking might include analyzing reports, listening to customer calls, talking with customers directly, or observing work processes. But the essential nature of the thinking part of our business should be analyzing our observations, searching for assumptions that may not be valid, looking for contrary approaches and points of view to challenge our sense of what we should be doing, and being as creative as we can be. We should be creating business scenarios – yes, imagining them – and testing them on paper to see how they play out. We tend to think of creativity as being the easy work, but it’s not, and I believe this is why it usually doesn’t get done.
So now I need to stop procrastinating (ah, the relief of having a blog to do) and start imagining what my customers might need that nobody else is giving them. I think I need another cup of coffee.

(c) Andrea M. Hill, 2007