Time for a new renaissance?

Reflecting more on my previous post, i realised that balancing between "think unless" and "act unless" should really be thought of as an attitude issue, and not some technique. Just as well as Zen is not just a technique, but something deeper, an attitude, a spiritual way of being, balancing the think/act principles requires more than applying a technique.

The balance requires a continuous awareness of the tensions at play:
  1. Have we done enough thinking?
  2. Aren't we stalling to much, before really acting?
In the context of business and IT transformations, my playing ground, we really need more of this balance. Especially in terms of a change of attitude. Business management, program managers, enterprise architects, IT architects, project leaders and engineers, all should do some critical introspection to see if they strike the right balance between thinking and acting. Especially in the current crises. Should we panic? Should we blindly cut costs? Or should we carefully rationalise activities based on priorities, consider undesired side effects within the business and social ecology as a whole, and prepare for the future? It takes leadership and courage to think first and to then act decisively.

In my view, over the last decennia, we have been under the influence of too much of an "act-now; think-later" attitude. Even more, I think that ever since the second world-war, we (especially in Western Europe) have been pushed more and more into this direction. An approach which might be regarded as a direct consequence of the pioneer mentality that has been dominant in the United States of America. And indeed, much of the "act-now - think-later" has been spread along with the growth of the USA based way of doing business. Thus far, this has lead to a demise of the European "Rhineland" way of doing things, which has always been more geared towards a "think-first - than-act" attitude. The two stereotypes sketched in my previous post really are isomorphic to the stereotypical distinction between Europe and the USA:
  1. The USA barges in without thinking.
  2. Europe won't act because they are too busy thinking.
I know these are stereotypes, but there is some truth to it.

There is currently a growing interest in taking things more slowly; more carefully; more thoughtful. This is exemplified by sites such as SlowPlanet. My colleague Ron Tolido maintains a blog on this site focussing on SlowIT. Interestingly enough, or should I say, importantly enough, this slow movement dates from before the crises.

Looking at the current economic crises, and its causes, I really think we should all take the responsibility and take some SlowPlanet lessons. It is time for Slow Business and Slow IT, or like Ron Tolido put's it: The Art of Careful Technology. Well, we can all do with some more care into the way we deal with the crisis and the way we can move forward.

Maybe, just maybe, we are at the start of a new renaissance. A better balance between thinking and acting? A renaissance of European-style thinking and enlightenment?


  1. The "thinking" as discussed in this blog should really also be seen to include more than just rational thinking. Listening to the feelings of stakeholders is just as important as producing a "mathematically sound" solution. "Slow" is just as much about feeling as it is about thinking.


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