“If we sense that our structures are rigid, inflexible, or bureaucratic, we must bust them open – without destroying ourselves in the process.” – Ed Catmull
To be successful in today’s highly competitive marketplace, your business must be flexible, innovative and customer friendly. Businesses that are inflexible and difficult to do business with are destined to fail.
Quite a few years ago, I was called by a client and asked to take over an engineering project that they had awarded to one of our competitors. This competitor was not meeting the requirements of the contract and not delivering on schedule or on budget. Once I got involved with the project and did some investigating, I discovered the biggest reason for their failure was they were stuck using their rigid project execution processes that added cost and complexity without returning any value. This competitor was stuck in their rigid, inflexible and bureaucratic structure and could not find a way to break out of it even though they were self-destructing!
If you are like most people, ambiguity is extremely uncomfortable and is something to be avoided whenever possible. Most of us find the lack of definition and lack of boundaries associated with ambiguity a little scary so we attempt to get definitions and boundaries set as quickly as possible. This reduces our personal stress level but it may not result in an optimal solution or situation.
For other people, ambiguity is something that can be manipulated to avoid facing reality or to float through their career without accountability or deliverables. This sort of behavior is obviously unproductive and should be avoided.
For a third group of people, ambiguity is used as a productivity tool. They use ambiguity to help them consider all aspects, perspectives and components of an issue without being tied to any one viewpoint. They are able to objectively evaluate disparate positions or solutions without bias and select the best solution possible.
Are you a divergent thinker? Most of us have heard of the movie “Divergent” which was released in 2014. It is about a girl (played by Shailene Woodley) who grew up in a post apocalyptic world that was segregated into five factions. Each faction had a distinct role to fill in the “new world” and everyone in each faction was expected to think and act in accordance with the mission of their faction. Those who could not fit into one of the factions were homeless, lived on the street and called factionless.
Every year the kids who were turning 18 had to take a test that determined their mindset and selected their faction for life. This faction could be the one they grew up in or it could be one of the other four. If it was a different faction than they grew up in, they would have to leave their family and everything they had known and move in with the new faction. No cross-faction citizenship was allowed.
Although this system appeared to result in a very orderly and focused society, it was obviously very closed minded and limiting. It did not allow for much in the way of free thinking or creativity.
“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” Albert Von Szent-Gyorgyi Nagyrapolt
This is a profound statement with profound implications. Seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought! Think of the impact you could have in the world if you were to able to see the same problems that confront all of us but you were able to think about them differently and propose unique and innovative solutions.
Does this seem too far fetched for you….too much of a stretch? I don’t think so! I think each of us has an opportunity to think creatively and uniquely about problems we face each day.
We all approach life’s challenges based on our unique perception of the world. To think creatively, just step away from the status quo, leverage your unique perspective and start asking questions about the challenges at hand. Follow these steps and see where it leads you: