What You Can Learn from the FedEx Logo in 10 Seconds
During the past two years, I've asked more than a thousand people what they see when they look at the FedEx logo. 80% say "letters" or "colors" or "shapes" or "the word "FedEx." The other 20% tell me they see an arrow -- a white arrow.
When I ask the baffled 80% if they see the arrow, most of them shake their heads and shrug. Only when I point to the arrow (in between the second "E" and the "x") do they see it -- a moment that is usually followed by their favorite exclamation of surprise and a chuckle.
This little phenomenon, methinks, is a great metaphor for what it really takes to innovate. There's something right in front of our eyes and we just can't seem to see it.
It's been there for a very long time, but for us it doesn't exist. In fact, if someone were to ask us if it existed, our answer would be an emphatic "no" -- not because it doesn't exist, but because we can't see it.
This explains a lot of things. Cognitive psychologists boil it down to just three words: "Motivation affects perception." In other words, we see what we're primed to see and miss the rest.
Shakespeare had a more poetic way of referring to this phenomenon. He called it "rose-colored glasses."
Think about it. When you're driving through a town and you're hungry, you see the restaurants. If you're running out of gas, you see the gas stations. If someone close to you is dying, you see the funeral homes. And so it goes.
Our entire work life has become a kind of oversized FedEx logo -- full of colors, shapes, and letters -- but all too often we miss the white arrow. What we need, is a background/foreground shift -- the ability to see what we never knew was there.
Good teachers have a knack for helping their students make this kind of shift. Good coaches, too. They have, it seems to me, a kind of X-ray vision. They see what their students (or their players) can't see and help them discover it on their own.
Simply put, they know how to prime the experience of tuning into the seemingly invisible -- the omnipresent opportunities to innovate that are non-obvious. That's the challenge before us all these days -- to go beyond our blind spots, limiting assumptions, and habits of thought in order to see bold new possibilities.
One simple way to do this is to start paying more attention to stories that move you, especially your own. Embedded in your stories is the "white arrow", the hidden code of what you are really learning. The more you tell your stories and the more you reflect on what they really mean, the more the white arrow will become visible -- to you and everyone else who gets a chance to listen to your stories.
Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at March 15, 2013 07:14 AM
This is highly likely. Very often happens that people just don't see what is in front of their own noses! Great example!
Another way to realise there are things we don't allow ourselves to notice but they are actually there, is too look at techniques from a different practice from our own expertise and to bring them to our field of concern, as Mike Browm from brainzooming did here http://bit.ly/ymKT5h.
Posted by: Bbd-us.blogspot.com at March 13, 2012 09:46 AM
Post a comment
Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)