Thinking In A World That Doesn’t Think

Arsene Wenger and that letter

A recent item appeared on LinkedIn that made me curious.  You may have seen it.

It purports to show a resignation letter written by a disillusioned employee of Arsenal Football Club, citing his reason for leaving:

‘My decision for leaving is due to Mr Arsene Wenger’s comments about staff after the recent draw against Leicester City.  To blame having to pay the 600 people working at Arsenal Football Club for not buying a player is a disgrace’

At last count this post received something like 9,000 “likes” and attracted 500+ comments, many of them supporting the sentiments of the letter and agreeing how shocking it was for Wenger to say such a thing.

Do you want to read the words Mr Wenger actually used?

‘I’d spend £300 million if I find the player and I had £300 million.  Do not forget we are a club who has 600 employees who we have to have a responsibility to as well.  It’s a bit surprising you come out of games and don’t speak about football. You have to speak about money’

And to give it context, this was in response to a journalist asking him if he would pay £300m for a player.

What do you think?

Is he “blaming” having to pay for those staff or is he saying something else?

There is also the question of the veracity of material presented as “fact” and I wondered why so many assumed the letter to be genuine.   Remember the meme about the feckless MPs packing the commons to vote on their pay rise?  That meme just wasn’t true and I’m sceptical about the Arsenal one too.

But that doesn’t stop human beings from believing it to be true or even wanting to believe it to be true.

Such is the problem in an age where a staggering amount of information is freely available.  Our problem today is not a lack of information.  It is a deficiency in thinking that is our problem.  We are merely skimming across a vast pond, deleting, distorting and generalising as we go, in order to create our models of the world.

We see this in our political debates both here and in the states.  I heard one commentator refer to the “post truth age” recently which was just as disturbing as Newt Gingrich arguing that “feelings” were more relevant than “facts” when talking about US national crime statistics.

So what does this mean for business leaders, managers and professionals?

Well I think it is incumbent on us to at least try harder, to achieve what the Critical Thinking Foundation describes as a “higher order of thinking”.  In doing so we make better decisions, it’s less costly financially and emotionally and leads to a better quality of life.  All of this by simply practicing our thinking.

I recently gave a talk at Liverpool John Moore’s University introducing some thinking models from the foundation into the decision making process of leaders, stuff we can all apply:

  • How clear are we on this issue?
  • How accurate and precise are we in our thinking?
  • How logical is this?
  • What depth and breadth have I gone to in considering it?
  • What are the big significant questions I should be addressing?
  • How fair am I being on this issue?

We know this works and have directly helped SME business owners to use these and other tools to make key business decisions.

Coupled with some excellence thinking traits around courage, humility, empathy, integrity and fairmindedness; these seem reasonable questions for any leader to tackle most business problems and opportunities.

Of course, in a world that doesn’t think, this requires time and space to fully practice.  Yet you can do it each and every day:

  1. By questioning news stories you see and hear – what’s really happening?
  2. In self censoring how you engage with social media
  3. Through monitoring how you listen and respond to colleagues and customers.

Worth it I think, even if just to give Arsene Wenger a break from such nonsense.



No Guru provide a range of courses and seminars on decision making an problem solving for leaders and managers.

Click here to access downloads of course outlines 

I am a trainer, facilitator, coach and speaker who loves working with people and teams to help them become more effective in their jobs.  I write, run, play guitar and saxophone and listen to music (I am a huge Van Morrison fan and our company name comes from a lyric of his).  I have  also made it to the bottom of Mount Everest (without oxygen) and once persuaded Sir Chris Bonnington to praise this huge effort when speaking to one of my cohorts about climbing to the top.  

John Drysdale


Posted by John Drysdale
16th September 2016
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