I read a lot of articles on continuous improvement. What I’m noticing is how much of the current focus on continuous improvement is just reprocessed platitudes.

For example:


Idea from an article: Be innovative! (OK, thanks. I already knew that).

Idea from another article: Hey, ya know, it’s not just about innovation. (OK, thanks, I knew that one too).


The trouble with both of these kinds of statements is that they are flirting with the obvious. Everyone by now knows innovation is a good thing. Well, not everyone. I suppose middle-schoolers might still be unaware. But, the people reading the articles, already know it. So, how about we just all agree that, innovation can help tribes progress, and move on? Do we need to keep saying it?


So what can we talk about instead. Lots of things, really.


If you want to talk about innovation, go beyond the obvious. Try using lateral or “up and down” thinking to find related but less obvious ideas that need exploration. Think beyond the obvious.


Here’s an example:

Innovation is good but people resist it (obvious)

People avoid innovation for a lot of reasons (obvious)

People have unspoken and competing agendas that block innovation (less obvious)

The mindless interactions between people– that have unspoken and competing agendas– can block creative thinking and action (hey we might be onto something)

Learning how to respectfully and appropriately disclose unspoken and competing agendas just might enhance innovative thinking.


Now that’s worth talking about–tell me more, tell me how to do it?


Lateral, and up and down thinking can get us beyond the “obvious” to other ideas that make the obvious ones more usable. And if this idea seems obvious to you, take it somewhere else.

Where do you need to get beyond the obvious?