Think-ability


I have been guiding several professionals at Team Leaders/ Supervisors in different organisations. Most of these people are with work experience of more than 5 years. They were working on improvements in the business processes that they manage. The improvement journey requires to seek think and come out with causes and solutions for their current performance levels. Most have been able to explain only what is obvious and the experience that they have been demonstrating were at the surface level.  I first thought if this is a case of “tool” as it is almost customary to find fault with tools.

I have been doing chintan-manan on this. The causes / solutions that we see is an outcome of our thinking process. It does not matter whether it comes from Right Brain Thinking or Left Brain Thing. Either way I thought the key word was Thinking. Possibly this was the key differentiator between the ones who came out with brilliant outcome versus the rest.

This prompted me to do some work on “thinking” process. When I wanted to understand the thinking process, I came across large list of thinking Processes in Wikipedia. I have a significant bias for our ancient language and philosophy. I have used the word ancient as most may consider them today as not so relevant.  The Sanskrit equivalent of word thinking is

  1. चिंत् refers to reflective thinking. I call this “Looking into Mirror” for ideas and /or causes. This calls for courage to accept oneself as one with positives and negatives both.
  2. ध्यै refers to meditative thinking. This requires thinking without any external influences. Distractions and shortcuts cannot allow one to perform meditative thinking.
  3. पर्यालोच् refers to deliberation, attentive observation. The observation process is different from seeing. It requires one to go into what is not visible or obvious. We are so used to “makeups” that we have forgotten the beauty of the inner layer of skin.
  4. वि-, तर्क् refers to argumentative thinking. This implies that one may need to argue with one’s own bias and assumption while thinking on cause or solution to a problem. We are often better at challenging other viewpoints. If we can start challenging our own, the chances are high that we would have better long term solutions.
  5. विचर्Refers to investigation. One may need to go beyond what is obvious. Any investigative process requires asking questions to seek answers.

In Chapter 3: Karma-Yoga; Shloka 31 and 32 of Srimad Bhagavat Gita, highlights the “thinking” aspects of human nature.

ये मे मतमिदं नित्यमनुतिष्ठन्ति मानवाः |

श्रद्धावन्तोऽनसूयन्तो मुच्यन्ते तेऽपि कर्मभिः ||३-३१||

ye: me: matham idam nithyam

anuthishttanthi ma:nava:ha |

sraddha:vantho::nasu:yantho:

muchyanthe: the::pi karmabhihi || 31

Those who always act according to the rule I have here laid down, in faith and without cavilling – they too are released from the bondage of their actions.

ये त्वेतदभ्यसूयन्तो नानुतिष्ठन्ति मे मतम् |

सर्वज्ञानविमूढांस्तान्विद्धि नष्टानचेतसः ||३-३२||

ye:thv e:thad abhya:su:yantho:

na:nu thishtanthi me: matham |

sarvajna:na vimu:dda:m stha:n

viddhi nashta:n ache:tha saha || 32

But those who cavil at the rule and refuse to conform to it are fools, dead to all knowledge; know that they are lost.

I would like to think beyond the meaning given in the shloka. Some of the key word in this shloka are matham, sraddha, anusuyantah.

मतम have different meanings and some of them are religion, thought, belief, conjectured, perceived, opinion, view.

श्रद्धा means trust, faith in general. It also means composure of mind, strong desire.

अनुसूयन्तः means free from fault-finding, critical, carping, quibbling, nit-picking, censorious, hypercritical, and captious.

The shloka when applied to Problem Solving and Process Improvement activities of a manager would mean

  • “Based on your experiences you may have different views, perceptions about a situation. You need to have faith in the process of improvement and have strong desire to improve significantly. You can come out of your current problems and move to new levels of performance, provided you think of the problem, causes and solutions without taking an approach of fault finding.”
  • “One should not get lost in trivial thinking”

The later shloka (no 32) actually warns about the consequence of not following the earlier one.

If one continues to think about the casuses and solutions without following the appraohes of thinking, would continue to live with the problem. Such situation would only worsen as the law of entropy in nature would prevail. Law of entropy in simple term implies that any process left to itself would tend to deteriorate over a period of time.

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