Scheduling Unstructured Time to Think

One of the first people who I ever worked for (Kelley Murphy, a partner at The Parthenon Group at the time) used to mandate something of his employees which I’ve rarely seen done since, though it significantly impacted me as I thought it was (and is) incredible valuable. He used to periodically ask everyone to take time to think. His team members would block off time during a critical juncture in a project or undertaking, and leave time for unstructured individual contemplation of the larger current work situation at hand. Requiring that people briefly pause from the action-oriented workday not only gave employees a brief respite from the pile of to-do’s, it more importantly provided an opportunity for everyone to take a step back to gain a broader (and fresh) perspective. It amazed me how many great ideas came out of doing “nothing,” as opposed to the normal workflow, or even structured brainstorming. In the frenetic pace that is startups (and venture capital), I suspect that if every so often everyone stopped (even if for an hour or two) to think, a lot of good would come of it.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by About.com where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.

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