The Beginning of a Theory
I have worked in the business sector for 35 years and as a university professor for 19. While working in marketing and then managing the training department for a large West Coast Bank, I began to notice that some individuals worked well in a high pressure, quick paced, fast processing environment, and others struggled to engage. It was confusing because the individuals who were not fully participating in the fast-paced work environment were highly intelligent, so their lack of participation was not a reflection of their intelligence or performance ability. I also noticed that those who were not participating in the rapid-fire discussions were not getting recognized for their abilities and were sometimes being passed over for creative assignments.
As training manager, I often held brainstorming meetings with my staff to come up with creative solutions to challenges that were presented to me from the branches or regions within the bank. There was a lot of interactive idea generation and we left each meeting with a plan. I frankly hadn’t noticed that everyone didn’t participate at the same level, because we had a strong trust culture and felt comfortable with each other’s processing style. One day after one of those brainstorming sessions, one of the senior training officers came to me. She told me that just because she didn’t share much in the brainstorming sessions didn’t mean that she agreed with our decisions. She just didn’t have time to process the discussion to develop an answer. The next time we met, we had our regular brainstorming session, but we ended the meeting differently. I asked the staff to think about our discussion and come to our next meeting with their thoughts on how we should proceed. The next time we met, half of the employees came with nothing new to say–they had already shared their thoughts. The other half came to the meeting with quite a bit to say. In fact, the senior training officer who had not participated much, came with a document that outlined the pros and cons of each idea, and her recommendations for moving forward. That was a life changing epiphany for me. I not only changed the way I conducted problem solving meetings from then on, I began to formulate a concept that I now share in all my classes with very positive results. That concept has become the theory that I call Quick Thinker/Deep Thinker.