August 2005

Think gray | Workplace

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Think gray

by Karen L. Cates, Ph.D.
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The next time a big decision presents itself, try something new: Don't make it—at least not right away. Except in emergencies, there can be great value in delaying decision-making in favor of "thinking gray."

The concept

Thinking gray is a concept developed by Steven Sample, president of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. It involves acting counter to leadership instincts that dictate finding solutions quickly.

According to Sample, instincts can make leaders susceptible to using heuristics, or mental shortcuts, when assessing information. Although heuristics help make simple decisions in life, such as choosing what to eat in the morning or finding a tie to match one's suit, leaders are paid to make complex decisions. They need to use more complex processes. And though it is natural to want to respond immediately when asked to make a decision, stopping the action and applying "gray" thinking dramatically can improve the quality of...

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