The Solution Is Finding New Answers

by Jay Deragon on 05/17/2013

In the beginners mindNo matter what the industry every leader is facing new challenges. These are not the same old challenges of yesterday so the same old solutions will not meet today’s challenges.

Market’s are getting smarter. Competitors are getting smaller and employee’s are expecting more than a pay check as the reward for a job.  Customers are expecting instant feedback and customization. Reorganization isn’t the answer. A new mission statement isn’t the answer. Forming teams to solve your problems isn’t the answer. Bringing in the “change experts” isn’t the answer. Hiring a social media guru isn’t the answer.  Leveraging more technology to do more of the same things at less cost isn’t the answer.  So what is the answer?

The answer begins by realizing that very things that used to make you successful are the same things that are holding you back today.

The Solution Is Finding New Answers

A Fast Company article titled “How Your Own Expertise Is Holding You Back” by Mark McNeilly states : “How are entrepreneurs able to create new companies and inventors capable of bringing new products to market? It’s because they avoid accepting the way things are in their industry and instead see what might be. It’s because they have shoshin, or, “beginner’s mind.”

Shoshin is a Zen Buddhist concept that means “having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject.” Shunryu Suzuki, the Zen master who wrote the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, summed up the philosophy well by saying, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

“As Suzuki implies, the expert faces the challenge of knowing too much. She knows what works and what doesn’t. He knows what’s been tried and why it didn’t work. Unfortunately, by accepting these things as givens, they cannot see what is possible. Only someone who views things with a “beginner’s mind” can imagine what could be if the assumptions are challenged.”

If we approach every challenge through the filter of earlier solutions gained from experience and education then we are not likely to find learn anything new needed to create new solutions.

Most leaders believe they made it to the top because of their experience, knowledge and past success. The problem with that assumption is today is no longer a reflection of the past. Everything is new and later it requires a new way to think about everything.

The answers come from what could be and not what has been.


Peter Perera May 19, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Didn’t Richard Branson amass a sizable fortune by entering businesses he had no or little “expertise” in…hence the brand “Virgin”?

Bala May 18, 2013 at 9:43 am

I could not agree with you more. I see the impact across 3 generations. This is a generalisation and not very specific. The first are people in their 50’s and 60’s who saw the possibilities in IT especially and made things happen and hence became successful. The next generation, people who are in their mid thirties to mid forties mostly assumed they wd be successful, did not question and are finding themselves caught. The new generation who are in their 20’s are seeing completely new possibilities and are changing the paradigm and seeing success.

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