- by Ishani Chattopadhyay, Head of Programs at TDi (2016)

I have been a keen observer of human behaviour for a long time…. one of my favourite pastimes is to sit in silence in public spaces and observe and absorb what is happening around me. Over time, when knowledge and experience have fallen short, or when things are crazy around me, it has been these insights that have given me clarity.

In light of the amount of information that is constantly flowing around us leading us to act more quickly, constantly and endlessly, I started to think about the impact on entrepreneurs and businesses in general. In the ‘fast food’ world of entrepreneurship is there room to achieve more through a ‘slow food movement’? Instead of immediacy of action, is there room for self reflection, awareness and mindfulness? Most importantly, how do we balance the need to act urgently with slowing down and taking our time?

The research highlights four other skills that help the process of associational thinking and support my anecdotal evidence. It shows innovators seem to practise powerful questioning exhibiting a “passion for inquiry”, they are intense observers of behaviour, people, technology, business and the world around them, they are avid networkers constantly trying to test out their ideas through diverse groups, and they are experimenters choosing to give a variety of things a go.

On reflection, I now know that the innovators and entrepreneurs who have left an impression on me and their arena of impact actually live and breathe these traits in practice. They constantly step back, stop to listen and observe, and are mindful, aware and reflective. They may be slow to act but when they do they act, it is with intense clarity and precision. I’m committed to ensuring I step back and reflect rather than filling my time with what’s seemingly urgent. I am signing up for the slow revolution…

“Associating happens as the brain tries to synthesise and make sense of novel inputs. It helps innovators discover new directions by making connections across seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas. Innovative breakthroughs often happen at the intersection of diverse disciplines and fields”

(Dyer, Gergesen & Christensen (2011).

The research highlights four other skills that help the process of associational thinking and support my anecdotal evidence. It shows innovators seem to practise powerful questioning exhibiting a “passion for inquiry”, they are intense observers of behaviour, people, technology, business and the world around them, they are avid networkers constantly trying to test out their ideas through diverse groups, and they are experimenters choosing to give a variety of things a go.

On reflection, I now know that the innovators and entrepreneurs who have left an impression on me and their arena of impact actually live and breathe these traits in practice. They constantly step back, stop to listen and observe, and are mindful, aware and reflective. They may be slow to act but when they do they act, it is with intense clarity and precision. I’m committed to ensuring I step back and reflect rather than filling my time with what’s seemingly urgent. I am signing up for the slow revolution…