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innovation Wednesday Whimsy

Innovation Comes from Immaturity

This assumption is based on a limit and on a rediscovery. The limit is the concept of growing up, which implies acceptances of convention and tradition that innovators avoid. Indeed, the designation of “immaturity” is frequently applied to innovators of all ages who constantly question the rules. To be mature is to become habituated to life’s prevailing norms, values and habits. In many cases this is the definition of mental health as well as of progress in cognitive, social and other domain where scales anchor in “age-appropriate” behavior.

Some writers see this as a progression from toying with many possibilities to an acceptance of probabilities to an accommodation of certainty. Innovation cannot thrive with this context. Certainty precludes options.

The rediscovery part of the assumption moves from the conformance of progression to the enthusiasms of childhood. How many times do children ask “why” and remain unsatisfied by our answers. And consider ideas. Having one as a child does little for the ego. But building one…and then using it—there’s the fun. Childhood projects often begin with a preference, a whim, an impulse. Calculations come later as the route unfolds. Surprises abound while zigging and zagging. Correlations and causalities are in suspension. For adults, the itch is to try something new and build on what works.

“Act your age” in conventional thinking is a blessing. For innovation it is a curse. This is a realm in which childhood’s end is another beginning.

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Watch Word Differences

A Wednesday Whimsy Regarding Words

Watch your words, we are admonished since childhood. Over many years, I have added this guidance: watch for the differences in what words mean. If I ask a grant seeker, for example, “What are your measurable and quantitative objectives?” am I making a distinction between measurable and quantitative, or do I just want to appear erudite by including two words that mean the same thing?

In the current focus on equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice the stakes are much higher when it comes to language. In these terms, I sense substantial differences in meanings, which brings far more richness to conversation than an assumption that the words simply pile on to create a critical mass needed to right a big wrong.

A quick example—equity and equality. As I understand it, equality means giving everyone the same resources. Equity means distributing resources disproportionately such as to achieve the same outcome for everyone. Circumstances may not factor in equality but they sure apply to equity. This distinction also raises important questions on means and ends. Not to be pointy headed this Wednesday. Just to say that such distinctions enrich discussion.

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Wednesday Whimsy

Hustle While You Wait

Last night I was re-reading a few sections of Stephen Covey’s classic 1989 book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and came across an intriguing four word sentence.  It came in an example of a personal mission statement and said:  Hustle while you wait.  I love divergent thoughts, which as prompt me to question conventional wisdom. In this case the convention comes from adding an adverb:  Wait Patiently. Beyond raising the question of when patience helps or hurts comes the question of how I can hustle while I wait.  I am resolved to try these steps:

  1. Accelerate intentionality.  Shift from distress to a good look at what I will accomplish in the rest of my day.  My body at rest is distinct from my mind at rest and most forms of intentionality help me to settle down.
  2. Observe. If I am in any form of waiting room or line, use the time to see how the organization is supporting waiting and what it could do better to reduce agitation.  Insights from what I see and hear may well come from the times when I have little else to do.
  3. Reflect.  So what is going on that defines waiting?  For me, reflection often leads to an understanding that what I glibly see as an external factor causing my wait is actually something that I can at least to some extent control.   While it is easy to say that the ball is in someone else’s court, the reality is often that I am waiting on myself.
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Uncategorized Wednesday Whimsy

Never the Twain

It’s tough to learn from mistakes you never made.

Mark Twain

While I spend hours tapping out prose to make and amplify thoughts, I keep finding that short zingers like this one get to the point far more quickly.   Further,  the best are actionable without further ado.   Suggestion:   think of or discover a quote that you like.  Ask yourself what you could do to express its core meaning next week.  If you can’t think of anything, try a new quote.    Email me if you want a good batch that I have found not just wise but useful.  My way of expressing this passage is to require myself to identify one screw up a week to ask what I will do differently next time.    They are all different. Never the Twain shall meet.