Sep 24 2014

There are probably dozens if not hundreds of posters, articles & other media available on the net discussing or otherwise representing what are commonly referred to as the 5 (or 6) most dangerous words in the English language; “That’s how it’s always been” or “We’ve always done it this way”.

It takes courage to be different, to step out from the crowd and try to do something differently than the accepted norm. Dick Fosbury did exactly that when he was unable to achieve competitive high jump heights using the traditional straddle technique. He developed what is now known as the Fosbury Flop, the technique used by almost all high jumpers today.

Most people probably don’t know about Dick, although most have probably seen his technique. He was one of thousands of courageous people who took the ridicule & criticism of those who prefer to stick to the status quo. Those who, like one of the Captains in Patrick O’Brians “Mauritious Command” said “if there is one thing I detest more than anything, it is innovations”.

But it is innovations in both product & process that have given us electric light, automobiles, airplanes, the internet, etc. Sure there are some flops (not Fosbury’s), innovations that don’t last very long or are quickly surpassed by further innovations. That is the nature of the world; creative destruction.

There are 2 things that are important in this topic. First is the willingness to innovate, to test out new theories, new ideas. Without this willingness we might still be living in grass huts, hunting & gathering our food. The second is openness, even eagerness to learn from successes & from failures.

Innovation is the key to success. Being like everyone else makes you and your organization average (at best). Sure, some people are happy with that, if you are, great! But if you want corporate and/or professional success in the sense that is widely understood (there are various definitions of success of course), being just like everyone else is unlikely to make that possible.

Innovation doesn’t have to be something we’ve never dreamed of, it can be as simple as small improvements every day. Gained by experimentation, by not accepting the status quo, by trying that new technique. You never know, you may create the next “Fosbury Flop”. As cited so many times in articles such as this, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”. Don’t adapt to change, create it!

 

 

 

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