Albert Einstein once said that the reason he was so good at thinking about time and space was that he was delayed in his childhood development to the degree that he forgot to forget about such wondrous things as an adult.
The direct quote is this:
“I sometimes ask myself how it came about that I was the one to develop the theory of relativity. The reason, I think, is that a normal adult never stops to think about problems of space and time. These are things which he has thought about as a child. But my intellectual development was regarded, as a result of which I began to wonder about space and time only when I had already grown up.”
So, what’s the implication of this reflection from one of the greatest minds of all time for us management scientists?
I think it’s this: Protect time to “wonder.”
There’s no doubt that in today’s environment you are being tackled by the urgent. That customer or vendor issue is way, way more urgent than the chance to stop and think about structural changes in your market. But is it more important? I’m not sure.
You need to save some time to express awe and wonder at your industry. You need to be able to explain how it works. You must be able to understand your own position within it.
Because if you don’t have these insights, solving that next customer issue might just be a fool’s errand.
Think about it. Do you protect enough time to express Einstein’s childish wonder at your business?
What do you think?