Can you do without thinking first? Can you think without having done before? I’m not trying to begin a philosophical read here, but rather trying to share the context of a few conversations I’ve had in the last couple of weeks.

Let’s recognize that we all need to be thinking all of the time, or life just doesn’t work. Some people just seem to be more purposeful about it. Not that all thinking should be purposeful, some of it should involve building dreams and seeking out possibilities. People who have the ability to create these types of visions within organizations are often called leaders. But, leaders don’t exist in specific positions, they’re among us at all levels of an organization. These individuals may have started out as the kids who always asked “why” and just never stopped. They are the Contributing Team Members (CTM’s) who always have a new inspiration to do something radical or make a minor change that improves a process or final result. These people have mastered the idea of “what ifs…”, but may have a more difficult time in carrying out these ideas.

The next group of important CTM’s comes into play…the doers. The people who can take an idea and run with it, give it life, make it happen. These individuals were the kids who asked the questions about “how can we make this work?” and never stopped this process. They are the team members who overcome the odds, never give up and always find creative ways to make things happen. They may have mastered the idea of “let’s make this happen,” but get too caught up in the details at times to look at all of the untapped possibilities.

So, who is more valuable, the “thinkers” or “doers?” This one is easy…both. We need both those who dream about the possibilities and those who take action. You can make sure you have both of these needed abilities on your team by approaching your selection process with the same…thinking and doing. Think about this: currently who are the strong thinkers in your organization? How do you utilize their skills? Where are there gaps? Then do this: identify the needed gaps. Seek out individuals to fill the needs. Add them to your team and create ways to use their talents well.

How do you seek out individuals with these abilities…

Assessing for Thinking, ask questions like:

  • Tell me about a creative solution you developed for a challenging situation or problem.
  • Describe a complex problem you had to solve and walk me through your thinking as you solved it.
  • Describe a situation when you took a risk professionally. What was the outcome?

Assessing for Doing, ask questions like:

  • When did you take on a new idea and give it life?
  • Tell me about a time others disagreed with your plan for action. How did you persuade them to your plans and what were the results?
  • Describe a situation in which you aspired to reach a goal. What obstacles did you confront along the way? What did you do to overcome them?

Tap into these abilities once you discover them and hire the right people. And be able to recognize that there is a need for both an efficient organization that “does” well and an innovative organization that “thinks” by investing its resources to find new and better ways to serve its customers.