Your perspective on time is vital to the way you make decisions and lead your life. Right now your mind is looking to the past for viable solutions or monitoring present resources or scanning the future for new opportunities. You’re shaped by your focus on what’s gone by, what’s here now, or what’s coming next.
The MindTime Project has devoted two decades to studying these three time perspectives. They’ve derived a simple diagnostic tool that can pinpoint your time perspective in less than a minute.
Try it. Are you a past thinker, a present thinker, or a future thinker?
Past thinkers gather as much data as possible and are concerned with accuracy and truth. They refuse to take anything at face value. Refusing to trust that “everything will work out,” they attempt to reduce the risk of negative outcomes. They are reflective.
Present thinkers take action and seek control over unfolding events. They abhor chaos and confusion and are driven to establish balance and order, create structure, and get things done. They are practical.
Future thinkers are open to possibilities. They seek out new opportunities and intuit what the future will bring. They are visionaries who promote their visions with enthusiasm and energy. They push the limits of what is known and understood. They are imaginative.
Understanding where you stand on the time horizon is enlightening, but the big payoff comes when you interact with others. For example, I’m a future thinker. That explains why I get upset with Past thinkers who slam me for not providing footnotes and with Present thinkers who want to hold up the show for something I consider inconsequential. The MindTime Framework helps me understand where the others are coming from and appreciate how to work with them.
(image Copyright 2009 MIndTime)
MindTime can create maps of your organization that reveal the invisible thinking forces that are moving you forward or holding you back. You saw such a map of Chief Learning Officer readers who took the time Profile earlier. How well do you get along with this group? Think about it at the next CLO Symposium.
A landmark study by ASTD and IBM interviewed CLOs and CxOs at 26 leading companies across 11 industries (see The C-level and the Value of Learning, T+D magazine, October 2005). Reading between the lines, the CXOs appear to be Future thinkers; the CLOs are Past and Present thinkers.
C-level officers want their CLO to build the foundation for transforming the company not just to get people up to speed on today’s needs.
The researchers asked how the learning function contributed value to three strategically important business needs: accelerating growth, enabling transformation, and increasing productivity.
The CLOs reported that most learning was technical and focused on skills; training enables the organization to operate. The CxOs said they expected CLOs to lead, not respond. CxOs saw learning as the major investment in driving their businesses forward. Quotations from the study highlight the gap between the two groups’ expectations.
“The learning function has to become more strategic, otherwise it is an unaffordable luxury.”
“Learning has to bring customers and along the change journey. It has to build the platform to enable us to change the business.”
“CLOs need to build capabilities to address future challenges of the enterprise.”
“The strategic value of learning is to reduce the cost of turnover and increased employee engagement.”
“The business plan for learning ties directly to business unit goals. Also incorporate our roll-up of individuals’ development plans.”
“CLOs are focused on performance and talent issues related to the current needs of business units.”
Now that you know your time perspective, MindTime suggests you think about your role in your organization. How can you make your particular way of thinking an asset to the group and a contribution to the greater purpose? By being aware of your creative role.
Your thinking style tells you where to look for your most important gift — and what you have to offer others. Vision truth, and productivity: these are the universal values that make a company effective.
For a management team to be successful, each value must be present and respected:
If you are a Future thinker, your role is to carry the vision and ensure that your group embraces innovation, creativity, and receptivity to change.
If you are a Past thinker, your role is to gather true and accurate information and make sure the group considers it carefully.
If your a Present thinker, your role is to help things get moving, and your focus is on planning, low, and harmony.
An edited version of this article appears in the December 2013 issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine.