Be like Bill – Think

Some time ago I read that twice a year, Bill Gates goes to a remote island hide-a-way for a week at a time.  No, he’s not going for a fishing vacation; instead of rods, reels, and lures, he takes market analyses, position reports, engineering reports, and opportunity papers.  In solitude, he reads and thinks and reads some more, writing notes in the margins and then composing questions, thoughts, and his own positions that will impact the future of Microsoft and the entire technology industry for years to come.

Getting away from the daily pressures for an extended period of careful thought and consideration in his “Think Weeks” are the way Bill Gates works on the vision of the company, determines which new projects to pursue, and plans for the future.  It is the same rigorous work and thought process that CEO’s of every business should pursue.  

Do you?  

Now, I’m not suggesting that you should take a “Think Week” twice a year.  Your business is much less complex than Microsoft.  But, if your business is to remain competitive in this constantly changing business environment and grow, you must take some think time.  Maybe you need to take a “Think Hour”, a “Think Afternoon”, a “Think Day”, or even a “Think Weekend” with no telephones, no people, and no distractions.  

Create your own virtual remote island (even if it is just behind your closed door with a “do not disturb” sign and a disconnected phone) to put the interruptions of the day-to-day far away.  Have an agenda.  Ask yourself some hard questions:  

“Is the business on track to fulfilling my vision?”
“Is the growth rate or profit rate on target?”
“If not – what can we do to improve it?”
“Where is my industry headed in the next five years and how do I position my business to take advantage of the changes?”
“What threats are looming on the horizon from competitors and marketplace dynamics?”
“What can we do to elevate productivity, morale, teamwork and cooperation?”
“How can we elevate our leaders to become inspiring, motivational leaders?”
“What changes in our company culture, policies, strategies, and tactics are necessary and how do we implement them?”

So, set aside an hour, an afternoon, a day in your virtual deserted island.  If Bill Gates can get away from his multi-billion dollar business for two “Think Weeks a year you should be able to do it for two “Think Afternoons.”  It will make a difference.

Question or comment to Larry: