In The Trenches


Published on October 8, 2019 Back to blog
Laundry on Washing Machine

I recently recalled memories of my childhood, when my mother asked me to go downstairs and put the clothes in the dryer for her. Being the “aiming-to-please” son that I was, I quickly ran downstairs to do exactly as told. A few hours later, my mother asked me to fold the dry clothes and bring them upstairs for her. At that point, I realized that, while I did exactly as I was told, I didn’t do it quite right.

I never turned on the dryer (It was not part of her request!). And when I relayed that news to my mother, she just looked at me quizzically and said two words. “Jeffrey! Think!” (Sadly, this happened more than once — and not just with the dryer. But, let’s not dwell on that.)

The point here is that sometimes, in our rush to get things done or in our desire to please others by doing exactly what they ask, we remove an important step: THINKING. Perhaps, because of the “dryer-lesson” I learned as a child, I’ve become acutely aware of this misstep and I cringe when people (myself included) skip it both at home and at work.

But simply getting mad and saying “Think!” may not quite rectify the situation because “think” can mean different things to different people. So, after a recent “THINK!” experience at work (this time, I was on the “mom” side), I thought it would be helpful to share a more detailed definition of “THINK” (in acronym form):

T = Truth While not applicable to the clothes-in-the-dryer scenario, many THINK! situations arise because the offender didn’t do their homework or check the facts. There’s no easier way to lose credibility than to share misinformation, or just not know the facts.

H = Heart If you want your message or idea to come across effectively, it needs to be authentic. Take a moment to judge your work and make sure you put some heart into it.

 I = Impact Perhaps the one I missed as a child: does the task achieve the desired goal? Make sure you understand the true objective, so you can be sure you’re meeting it. 

 N = Need This one has two parts: First, did you do everything that needs to done (i.e., was there a specific set of requirements associated with the task)? And second, do you really need everything you are saying/doing (i.e., do you need to include all of that irrelevant info in the email)?

K = Knowledge As a result of your action or communication, will the recipient(s) be more knowledgeable? If the only thing you are adding is redundancy, consider an alternative.

Whether it’s writing an email, creating a presentation, sharing an idea, or simply doing the laundry right, I hope that this THINK acronym helps you and your colleagues avoid unnecessary “THINK!” situations. 

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners