Active Thinking

I have to clarify a point made in my last post about taking time to think.  I mentioned that clients tend to get nervous during the point in the project when they don't perceive that anything is happening, and that in fact, this thinking time is the most important part of the project. 

What clients fear is that this time is spent truly doing nothing while waiting for inspiration to strike.  I agree that this seldom works.  What I'm talking about is what I will call Active Thinking.  Louis Pasteur's quote "Chance favors the prepared mind" is relevant here.  Inspiration may in fact strike, but the only way to know if the inspiration is useful is to have done all the active thinking work necessary to prepare the mind to recognize its value.

When I refer to the active thinking part of the process, what is happening is that the team is creating the conditions necessary to prepare their minds for the solution.  They make models, try out analogies, and create frameworks, stories and scenarios.  They discuss these models, test them against their research, and keep going until they have something robust.  By this point, they are able to discern what will work, and what won't work quite easily.  When an idea strikes them, they are able to discern its value quickly, and either embrace it or move on.

I'm going to start using the term Active Thinking.  It's clear that there is a need to define this most important part of the process so that it's not confused with goofing off.