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Do you have a Bias for Action?

How much time do you spend thinking and how much time do you spend doing? When do you prefer to think? When do you prefer to act?

I have found it useful to balance the time I spend putting information into my head and the time I spend creating. I refer to it as balancing my input and output.

What your input-output ratio? I’ve found my ideal input/output ratio to be about 70:30. If I think and learn 70% of the time, I only need 30% to implement. Everyone is different. My ‘doing’ time is much more effective when I’ve spent adequate time thinking and learning. Some people have more of a bias for action and learn from doing.

Company cultures differ in their input-output ratios as well. I worked for a company where my boss told me she needed me to be 98% action and 2% thinking. The company was an operationally focused place, it was all about doing. I knew that this was not the right place for me.

Some organizations stall because there is so much thinking that they get stuck in analysis paralysis. No one wants to take action until the thinking is 100% complete and proven.

When do you think and when do you take action? It’s important to know on a personal level when you do your best thinking and learning vs when you are best at taking action. Our local schools are considering the ‘flipped classroom’. This means that students watch lectures and learn for homework, and engage in activities and discussions in the classroom. Studies have shown that students can absorb concepts when they are tired, but can integrate and apply concepts better in the daytime.

How much knowledge do you need in order to get started? The Lean Startup model favors doing first and then thinking when you have empirical data. Some organizations where the cost of an error is higher, prefer to think and learn before doing. Finding a way to experiment has proven effective in many situations.

Innovation comes from the cross-pollination of ideas. No amount of prototyping will replace the inspiration you can gain from wandering across a seemingly disparate discipline that sparks an idea. Richard Feynman was famous for wandering into the biology lab and bringing them ideas from physics and then bringing biology ideas back to the physics lab.

You’ll never know everything you need to know before you can get started. Figure out how much you need to be inspired to start taking some action. Act on that inspiration.

How do you balance your inputs and outputs? Let us know!

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