Solve The Problem From The Outside

by Jay Deragon on 11/19/2013

innocentiveHow often have you seen organizations recruiting new people with the skills and knowledge from within the same industry, the same field of practice etc.?  All the time.

It is as if organization’s think hiring people who can keep thinking and doing what they’ve always done will create something other than what they’ve always got. Then the wisdom from above ask everyone to help solve the problems created from what they’ve always done.  Go figure.

Innovative ideas don’t come from people who have lived in the same mind meld all their adult life. Living in a mind meld tends to lead you to conclude what has been and not what could be thus reducing the probability of allowing your state of mind to envision possibilities that now seem impossible.

Today’s corporate cultures prohibit people from thinking and acting outside of the corporate mind meld. It begins with the framing of a job description. You must have these qualifications which includes experience, education and your references must come from branded organizations who are likely our competitors or suppliers. Sound familiar?

Then you actual get into the corporate mind meld and you are handed a booklet of policies and rules for doing everything. You are invited to a team meeting to discuss solving problems only to be told your ideas wouldn’t work because 1) we’ve tried that before and failed  2) that would be against company policy 3) that is another departments responsibility or 4) your idea is too radical.  Been there and done that?

Insiders Have Restraints:Outsiders Have None

While many stakeholders of organizations would love to offer innovative ideas to help improve service, performance, satisfaction and results most go unheard due to cultural restraints. Anything that restrains an individuals attempt to freely offer value is discouraging to the human spirit.

If you haven’t noticed most innovation comes from people who think and create value from outside the norms.  These are what the famous Apple ad calls “the crazy ones“.  These are the entrepreneurs whose minds have not been melded by any particular corporate or industry experience and they simply pursue doing what others have not done or said it couldn’t be done. These are the outsiders.

Robin Chase Founder of Zipcar writes: Innocentive is founded on this principle of applying new mental models to hard problems. Companies like NASA and Lilly post problems that feel unsolvable to their inside experts, whose mental models were developed through years of education and experience. Then, outsiders from other sectors apply their own new mental models to the challenges and simply solve them.

Part of our success in building Zipcar came no doubt from the fact that the founding team was comprised entirely of outsiders to the car rental and wireless technology industries. We didn’t know what wasn’t possible or how it was supposed to work.

Innovation comes from the outside. Innovation is not an end state, but a state of being.  It is not a new product, nor any other kind of output.  The state of mind represented by a connected world that is in a constant state of flux fueled by ideas is the new mind meld of the crazy ones who reject what can’t be done and replace it by what can now be done.

Today’s true innovator is on the outside. That is why today’s leading companies solve problems from the outside in then create value from both the inside out and outside in.

{ 1 comment }

Jack Look November 19, 2013 at 8:13 am

Good points Jay. I’m often amazed that companies don’t see the value of an outsider’s thinking.

Thanks for bringing this up.


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