Most corporate executives cannot ‘Think’!


imageThe way I see it – to be able to ‘Think’ – is to use your mind, your intellectual resources to be able to find a solution, suggest a road forward, develop a plan, chart a course of action, etc. or to plainly ‘use your head’. 

The ‘use your head’ term should not lead someone to ‘use your head’ as a hammer. That won’t qualify as thinking.

I have one strong view based on experience, observation and my interaction with a number of corporate executives: “Thinking is difficult…”.

Most people / executives / employees in businesses:

  • Don’t want to think
  • Cannot think
  • Are too lazy to use their brains
  • Lack creativity
  • Lack the ability to innovate and think fresh
  • Are not blessed with an ability to think
  • Are intellectually challenged / handicapped

    Some others who qualify and stand opposite to the above mentioned types are normally fresh MBA graduates, fresh campus hires and management trainees.

    These people in most of the scenario would migrate to the – “cannot think” -  above mentioned types within a few years of their job stint. This happens because people, falling in the “cannot think” category, can never appreciate others who are blessed with better intellectual capabilities. The change may also happen since after sometime the fresh hires end up realising that they are not expected to create any thing afresh but they just need to “do as told”. 

    The silver lining: Fresh MBA Campus hires in some corporates these days are allowed to think fresh and deliver critical assignment with well planned and well managed campus hire programs, but that’s true for a handful of corporates only and even there in it happens in select pockets.

    Those who are opposite of “cannot think” types.

    These professionals are destined to rise in the hierarchy, and take on leadership roles, expert roles some time sooner or later. These professionals are always eager and willing to churn fresh ideas, think fresh, innovate, etc. Their thoughts , ideas and innovation can impact a process, products, strategies and well approaches of doing business.

    Such professionals end up being in demand for key strategic roles and expert roles at senior level.

    For operations leadership  and business leadership roles – just an ability to ‘think’ is not enough.  Execution is also important. Being able to think is crucial as it allows you to do more than what’s already being done, it allows you to generate new ideas, new perspectives.

    “Thinking” – is an expensive and prized competency:


    Thinking and the related terms like – innovating, being creative, planning, etc. are very important to any business, and these are active components of top level organisational, managerial, and leadership competencies.

    For entry level jobs – most of the job expectations is defined by straightforward , well-defined activities, routine tasks and supervised actions. These are easiest to do and deliver for most of the people. Operational activities including operations in functions like Finance, HR, IT, etc. are clearly defined by process documents and policy guidelines.

    As one keeps on moving in the hierarchy, the elements of thinking, decision making starts creeping in ones job responsibilities.  For leadership level roles – the job is more about thinking, decision making, problem solving, decision making in ambiguity, etc.

    Availability of manpower – “thinking” vs “doing:

    • It’s relatively easier to find people – who do as they are told to do, who follow instructions and who work as per defined processes.
    • It’s difficult to find people – who can think, who can generate ideas.
    • It’s a real challenge to find people – who can think, generate ideas and who also have capability to lead these ideas to execution.

    You can refer to the above three points to asses your own “value and demand” readiness for critical positions.


    Some simple diagnostic questions to check your own willingness to generate ideas, think, and create ideas from start.

    • How many times your creations are – “cut-copy-paste” activities?
    • Do you take help from “Google God” to :
      1. Start working on an idea
      2. To develop an understanding about a subject
      3. To “find a solution”
      4. All of the above
    • What component of the policy, process document or the presentation made by you is “your own creation”?
    • While in school – did you :
      1. Did you “forget” a formula during an exam ?
      2. Could you derive a formula as and when it was needed ?

    What are your thoughts on the views mentioned in this article?

    You are welcome to share your thoughts or comments by writing to us at

    © / Perspectives

  • What's your take on this post ? Comment: