“If It Ain’t Broke…Break It!” book reflection #4

Chapters 10, 11, 12 begin with the idea of looking at your business from the perspective of a beginner. Being able to remove your pre-conceived notions and think like a beginner when it comes to seeing an obvious solution or recognizing a new idea, which can be difficult if we are blinded by our own experiences. Sometimes knowing too much can make it difficult to see simple answers. In today’s world, a new idea, technological breakthrough, political shift, or research finding can quickly render what we consider state-of-the-art, as obsolete. Kriegel says the key to keeping ahead of change is to learn to think like a beginner. With a beginner’s mind, you will be more open to what is emerging and better equipped to anticipate change. The beginner isn’t as attached to old ways of doing things and won’t spend a lot of time beating a dead horse or accumulating sacred cows. A beginner will look at the world with fresh eyes and an open mind, and see things that an expert might miss. Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado introduced the idea of “novice consulting” to their management team with the goal of creating new ideas for each department. What they did was to divide up their 25 managers from the entire spectrum of business units into 6 teams. Each team would spend time in an area of the business they had no experience in, with the chore of asking as many dumb questions as they could think of. The results were the creation of several innovative ideas and process that were permanently incorporated into each business unit.

You can learn a lot from customers by watching how they misuse and abuse your product after they but it. Paying attention to how customers actually use, misuse, and abuse products provides the best R&D team, and an endless supply of innovative ideas. Harley Davidson required all their senior management to take cross-country trips on their Harleys to bike rallies, and rub shoulders with typical and no-typical Harley customers, including the Hells Angels. What they noticed was that virtually every Harley at these rallies had been modified and customized. All the bikers they met became their R&D team, and many of the ideas were incorporated into the design of later models. Unconventional wisdom says new ideas can come from “outside” your field. To use a sports analogy, instead of watching how your competition is playing the game, observe a different sport and look for things that might be applicable to your team. Kriegel gives an example of how a hospital system learned to solve their public relations problem by visiting a cruise ship. Eight managers from the hospital went on separate week-long cruises and returned with a list of over 100 improvements they wanted to make, simply by focusing on the attitude and demeanor of the cruise ship staff, and how they were treated as guests on the ship. The bottom line is to look for the odd-coupling of strange bedfellows and the synergistic products and services.

Take risks not chances. We must continually change our thinking and behavior to succeed. Playing it safe is dangerous and futile, and the notion of a comfort zone is an illusion. Actor Timothy Hutton said “You’ll only be as good as you dare to be bad.” Author Gifford Pichot said, “If you don’t expose yourself to risk, you can’t possibly learn anything. If you are 100% certain of the outcome of an action, what do you learn from taking that action? Not a thing! If you don’t expose yourself to risk, you can’t possibly learn anything…if you risk nothing, you learn nothing.” Risk takers thrive on the risks they take, but they don’t take chances. Sports Psychologist Dr Bruce Ogilvie studied several professional risk takers including race car drivers, sky divers, and stunt men. What he discovered is that they were extremely intelligent and cautious people, and a great deal of planning and preparation went into their activities. This type of planning and analysis increase confidence, commitment, and self-control. We are all born risk takers. Research shows that we learn more, and faster in the first five years of our lives than we ever will in the years afterward. That is no accident. That is the period of our lives they we take the most risks, when we are exploring the unknown, and is the prime time to make mistakes. The biggest mistake we can make when confronting a risk, whether it is learning a new skill or starting a new project, is to focus on the end result. The idea is to dream big and take lots of small steps.

Reference; “If It Ain’t Broke…Break It!” by
Robert Kriegel and Louis Patler

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