Stalled Thinking Stifles Innovation

What’s Your Point?—as blog and book—is a whisper in the ear, a tap on the shoulder, a pat on the back, and a mental kick in the pants for those with years of hands-on experience thinking, analyzing, creating, improvising…and deciding for others—their clients. No dummies here, but there is Room for Improvement and there is need for INNOVATION.

Experience can be valuable to the success of everything and anything, including communication, but not always. The professional wisdom, knowledge, creativity, and decisiveness that experience generates are frequently the driving force behind improvement and innovation. Ironically, these two essentials can be forestalled, particularly in times of dramatic shifts, by resistance to change and other distractions originating from past experience.

Merely saying, “I’m thinking outside the box,” or even making an effort to do so—alone or in a group—does not guarantee you’ll achieve this creatively-liberating goal with any inspiration or permanence. It’s like the reality that, lost in a forest with no view of the horizon, you’ll walk in a circle if you don’t have the specific skills to break this pattern:

  • Turns out, for all of us, one leg is longer or stronger than the other. Walking in a straight line when you are disoriented requires knowledge and external stimulus. If you could fix your eyes on a distant objective, you could walk out, but you’ll wander in circles when you’re hemmed in by trees and don’t understand where you are or which is the best path to where you want to go.
  • Turns out invisible—for all of us—ingrained patterns of thinking—the “mental legs” you move forward on—can keep you thinking in circles when you do not fully understand where you are starting from, and what you’re mentally hemmed in by.

It sounds easy: “let go of the past,” “live in the moment,” “embrace the future.” But if it’s that easy, why are so many norms, biases, and dictates from the early 1900s still leaving their mark on individuals in the 21st Century?

For instance, reactions to chronological age, aging, teenagers, boomers, retirement, money, social media, and status are frequently rooted in stereotypes, norms, and myths from the last two centuries. This stalled thinking stifles innovation and keeps problem solving going in circles. Moving forward with our thinking and creativity, means we must each fully understand where we are starting from and what might get in the way of progress. Have you consciously developed simple, practical strategies for shedding society’s baggage and bad habits—and yours too—most of which have been dragged forward from past centuries?

Most of the lost opportunity and generational conflict that plagues 21st-Century workplaces, and society in general, can be traced back to the application of 20th-Century thinking, which was always flawed by ingrained shortcomings from previous centuries.

Much from the past is powerful and relevant in this century. However, why carry the weaknesses and defects of that century forward? There’s a lot of long-overdue purging and merging of the centuries to be done in most minds and workplaces.

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