Obviously, we need more Deep Thinking and I reckon it's this ability that underpins the evidence that our female national leaders are doing consistently better than their male counterparts.
I don’t think the ability to think deeply is biologically determined. I do believe it can be trained but that women are trained much harder than men in this way of thinking.
So, let's start with the evidence and then move onto the distinction....
“Countries governed by female leaders experienced much fewer COVID-19 deaths per capita and were more effective and rapid at flattening the epidemic's curve, with lower peaks in daily deaths.”
Shallow vs. Deep Thinking
It's all a matter of perspective.
An example from Urban Planning
A few years ago I helped organise a conference for Urban Planners to help them think about Bushfire Recovery a friend of mine, Edward Blakely (aka, the Recovery Czar of New Orleans) opened the seminar, by declaring that we were planning the wrong kind of city. Thinking from now to the future meant that we were designing cities that worked for middle-aged white men and women in the current environment. Blakely showed us the demographics so we could see that when the infrastructure we were designing was being used it would be primarily serving older Asians and people from non-Anglo-Saxon countries.
Why we don't privilege Deep Thinking?
1. We still think that leadership is content-based, something that can be taught like mathematics or how to drive.
Just the other day, an academic client had a break-through moment when he realised that leadership is actually a personal development issue
2. Shallow Thinking can be seen in the moment, but Deep Thinking cannot. Where Shallow thinking lends itself easily to Checklists, Deep Thinking privileges the Experience. To leverage the Trump phenomena, Deep thinking relies on partnerships and relationships, not The Deal. It's the ancient quality vs quantity issue writ large across our whole society
3. The most important barrier to building capacity in the realm of Deep Thinking is that you can only recognise it is missing if you are already doing it!
I had a Tantrum last week
Forced to live for months in a new level of intimacy with our partners and families we're bumping up against the assumptions and privilege we've taken for granted, and that works so well for us... and how much we resist changing it!
A lot of that privilege is founded on not needing to think too deeply!
Why? well, because I run a business and make most of the money and that should count towards my share of effort in the house... don't you think???
“I wish you could hear yourself on loudspeaker” my wife said at one point… “you make the money so you don't have to clean… you know, if I wasn't here to do it for you, you would have to do it all!”
“My husband is an Executive in a large firm. The first thing he does when he comes home is take the washing out. He also does all the cleaning in the house.
My friends, consider me lucky. I have a good husband. But every day when he does it my thought is, “God, I wish I could do something as mechanical as that and deem it sufficient…”
This question is the automatic response from people who can't actually see the Deep Thinking that is being done and the answer is the same for my wife as it is for a low-ranking (or even high-ranking) bureaucrat with a vision.
People who think Deeply are already working really hard!
It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
These are the barriers:
1. You can't make people see what they can't see, especially if they don't really want to;
2. Shallow thinking is embedded (and privileged) in existing systems so,
4. Shallow Thinking works for too many people (like me) because we can leave the heavy lifting to others (and they just keep doing it!!)
Back to my little personal example of not wanting to do my share of the cleaning. This has;t changed until now because it's often not worth the effort, or if my tantrum about doing the dishes is any indication… not worth the drama!
Deep Thinking is where the real lifting happens. It is invisible. So often not counted. But it's the part that holds everything together.
My invitation to you is not just that (you would anyway) but to do something even more important:
Hold other people to account for NOT DOING IT.