When Thomas J. Watson, Sr. joined the Computer-Tabulating Recording Company in 1914, he brought with him the slogan he coined while a sales manager at the National Cash Register Company, “THINK.” His famous “THINK” slogan and sign became a fixture in IBM offices worldwide for many decades. Watson said,
“Thought has been the father of every advance since time began. ‘I didn’t think’ has cost the world millions of dollars.”
I remember being a kid when seeing the small, leather-covered pocket notebook that my friend’s father carried. It had only one word on the cover, deeply embossed in the leather’s surface – “Think.” While I haven’t always abided by the message, I frequently reflect on it. When I do, I slow down and put thinking ahead of doing, at least for a short period of time. Funny enough, things often work out better when I get the order right.
Some time after Thomas Watson introduced his simple, but critical message, MAD Magazine spoofed it in a way that may even convey the message better than the original. “THIMK.”
They added another good message, “Plan Ahead,” with the last few letters having to be squeezed into the available space.
I see entrepreneurs in startups forgetting to think all the time. Especially post-funding when they tend to put their noses to the grindstone, in execute-only mode. Their excitement about getting the business going and spending the money they’ve gotten often makes them forge ahead with a brute force mentality, always assuming that all the planning that needs to be done was completed prior to funding. It’s important at any stage to stop, take a deep breath and think. It may be most important during those months of execution post-funding, when all assumptions are truly tested and target markets and customers can be better understood.
Watson had it right, the simple reminder to “think” may be one of the most important messages that anyone ever gets. MAD Magazine’s version may be even a better way to remember it.