June 28, 2010
Six Ways to Go Beyond Your Assumptions


If you want to innovate, the first thing you'll need to do is check your assumptions -- those arbitrary lines you've delicately drawn in the sand.

The so-called "box" people say they want to get out of? Nothing more than their collective assumptions -- and, Lordy, there have been many throughout history.

Some real whoppers.

Assumptions are your blind spots -- what you don't know you don't know -- what you don't see when you look in the mirror just before crashing into the car about to pass you.

OK. Time is passing, too. What to do so you can undo?


1. Make a list of what you think they are.
2. Ask your friends, co-workers, and clients to add to your list.
3. Read these 30 examples, then note your own.
4. Brainstorm your biggest opportunity through the eyes of someone else.
5. Every time you see a FedEx logo, ask yourself: "What am I assuming about Project X?"
6. Turn your biggest assumption into a "How can I?" question, then brainstorm it with friends.

This is just a starter list. You got more? Let me hear from you.

Or, you can invite me in to your organization in order (or disorder) to shed a little non-refracted light on the topic.

Unless, of course, you're assuming I'm too expensive or any number of the other top hundred reasons why you think it can't happen.


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2010
Breakthrough As an Accident Waiting to Happen


Contrary to popular belief, breakthroughs are less about the act of inventing new things than they are the art of recognizing "happy accidents" -- those unexpected moments when an elegant solution reveals itself for no particular reason.

The discovery of penicillin?

The result of Alexander Fleming noticing the formation of mold on the side of a Petri dish left unattended overnight.

Vulcanized rubber?

Discovered in 1839 when Charles Goodyear accidentally dropped a lump of the polymer substance he was experimenting with onto his wife's cook stove.

The post-it? An accident in the lab. After all, 3M made adhesives -- things that stick -- and the post-it didn't stick all that well.

Breakthroughs aren't always about inventing things. They're often about the intervention required to notice something new and surprising.

For this to happen, you'll need to let go of your expectations and assumptions. Not to mention, ideas, concepts, beliefs, paradigms, and dinner plans.

Bottom line, you'll need to get really curious and allow yourself the luxury of following your curiosity to the ends of the earth.

What pundits typically refer to as "brilliance" is less about IQ or enlightened vision than it is letting your eyes adjust to the available light -- so you can see what's already there.

"I invent nothing," said Rodin. "I rediscover."

What failed experiment of yours or unexpected outcome might be worth taking another look at?


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

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