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Active Waiting Revisited : Learning from Lions. C. W. Von Bergen & Martin S. Bressler Southeastern Oklahoma State University Durant, OK.

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active waiting revisited learning from lions
Active Waiting Revisited:Learning from Lions

C. W. Von Bergen & Martin S. Bressler

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Durant, OK

slide2

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running” (Friedman, 2005, p. 114).

emphasis on action speedy action
Emphasis on Action—Speedy Action
  • The quickest, swiftest, and fastest live another day
  • Fast action enables firms to thrive and flourish
  • A bias for action: “Ready, fire, aim” (Peters & Waterman in In Search for Excellence)
  • Taking initiative
  • Being proactive
  • Making things happen
  • Paralysis of analysis
  • Procrastination
procrastination
Procrastination
  • Today the term has disparaging connotations
    • Stalling
    • Putting off
    • Postponement
  • Until the industrial revolution the term implied
    • Informed delay
    • Wisely chosen restraint
    • A sophisticated, astute decision when not to act
learning from wise lions
Learning from (Wise) Lions
  • Lions must be smart in running
  • Inexperienced young lions that reflexively chase targets suffer many failed hunts.
  • The more successful hunters carefully scan the horizon and wait with patience and focused attention for the right circumstances to arise—and then act.
  • It is not so much the lion’s speed—nor its sheer size and strength alone or else we would still be seeing saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths—but its cleverness that is the key to its survival.
  • Even if they are hungry, wise lions will pass on a meal rather than risk a reckless attack.
managerial unproductive busyness and activity
Managerial Unproductive Busyness and Activity
  • Addressing trivial operational issues
  • Limit their search and consider too few options
  • Pay too little attention to people who are affected by a decision
  • Fear being seen as indecisive, so they make quick decisions
  • Immediate action makes managers seem to be on top of things
  • Avoid participation because it takes too much time
this leads to
This leads to …

Cultures of frenzy and unreflected activity that seem to dominate many organizations

active waiting
Active Waiting
  • A process in which individuals intentionally hold back from impetuously diving into making irreversible commitments of resources.
  • Less a matter of time management but of emotional management
  • Pausing reflectively and purposely; occurs in the space between stopping to recognize symptoms and prescribing a treatment
two cognitive modes of thinking
Two Cognitive Modes of Thinking

Automatic Thinking

Reflective Thinking

Controlled

Effortful

Deliberate

Rational

Slow

Self-aware

  • Uncontrolled
  • Effortless
  • Instinctive
  • Intuitive
  • Fast
  • Unconscious
implementing active waiting
Implementing Active Waiting
  • Be doubtful
  • Generate alternatives
  • Assess alternatives
  • Be flexible
  • Implement slowly
  • Take action
be doubtful
Be Doubtful
  • Doubt is creative because it allows for alternative ways to see the world
  • Uncertainty helps to slow us down
  • “Some self-doubt abut one’s performance efficacy provides incentives to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to master challenges” (Bandura & Locke, 2003, p. 96)
assess alternatives
Assess Alternatives
  • Legality
  • Ethicalness
  • Economic feasibility
  • Practicality
implement slowly
Implement Slowly

In martial arts there is a saying:

“You have to go slow to go fast.”

conclusion
Conclusion

“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business.”—Warren Buffet