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Beware of Straight-jackets

I’m reading Cats: The Nine Lives of Innovation. I’m taking a break from my usual preference to look at what’s working to look at Lundin’s challenges to innovation. He lists the following four challenges to our ability to innovate, calling them “straight-jackets”. I include them here along with my comments:

  1. Distractions. Noise, doubts, fear, and the accumulated opinions, thoughts, and feelings of  a lifetime that drown out new ideas. When is the last time I turned off all electronics to experience life uninterrupted?
  2. Normal. Our preference for standardized and repeatable experiences and process inhibits breaking out in new ways. Of course, this is the safe and secure, normal and average way we stay in our comfort zones.
  3. Failure. We’re taught from childhood to avoid failure. In recent years I’ve seen parents applauding children for everything from taking a step to playing with toys. To create something new, we have to be willing to risk failing, to risk not getting the applause and approval of co-workers, family, and friends.
  4. Leadership. Here I think he means the old style of authoritarian, command and control management, where everything is measured, directed, and done by-the-playbook. To innovate, we have to go where the energy and passion are.

I’m ready to think about and discover what it means to be innovative and creative in my life and in the interactions I have with clients. After all, while we may spend time talking about how innovative Toyota or General Electric are, in the end, people are the ones who create new things and ideas.

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