Think Fast, Think Slow

As a Christian school leader, you have several interruptions each day. Someone wants you to answer a question immediately. They are driven by the long habit of providing quick answers to every client need or question. As the leader, you are also the chief strategist and guardian of the mission. A quick answer may slow your school down in the future as well as significantly increase costs, disrupt client services, and reduce sustainability.

Responding to client needs requires quick action and quick thought. Strategic thinking takes time.

As a parochial school leader, you need three speeds of thought:

Client Thinking – Our society leads clients to expect an instantaneous response to all demands and questions. This requires everyone in your school to think quickly and act quickly when serving a client.

Strategic Thinking – Strategic thinking requires taking a moment to gaze into the future and consider the consequence before committing to something that might affect the mission, change the course of the organization, or set a precedent that will be hard to live with.

Normal Thinking – Careful, deliberative, measured thought driven by a need rather than a vision (strategic thinking). Normal thinking results in a solid decision and keeps everyone calmly going about their work.

Most of us have years of experience serving clients and thinking quickly to meet their needs. We developed a habit of thinking quickly, achieved success, and were rewarded with a promotion.

Next time you are asked to make a decision, take a moment to pause (take a drink from your coffee cup, close the file folder on your desk, pick some lint off your sleeve, or do some other mindless task). While your hands are engaged in the mindless activity, your mind can be looking into the future. When your hands are done, you will have a few strategic questions for your visitor to answer or research. Meanwhile your visitor will wait patiently giving you the time you need to be the strategist your board expects you to be.

Next Step:

Take a moment to slow the down so that strategic thinking is possible (apply this to board meetings also)

Ask questions rather than providing strategic answers (Your staff will learn to think strategically and prepare themselves for their next promotion.)

Promote a sense of urgency while discouraging quick thinking

Client needs should drive each conversation without stampeding the thought process. Clients want quick high-quality results. Your mission, board, and the community want the emphasis on quality. The way to keep everyone happy is to use every opportunity to take a moment for strategic thinking.


Comments are closed.