Get some colleagues around a table to generate some fresh ideas and chances are they’ll come up with a few modest tweaks to the status quo. That’s because most groups share a sacred (and unstated) assumption that the only good idea is the one that won’t require anyone in the group to change a single thing they’re already doing. And like most assumptions, if you said it out loud it would sound just as ridiculous as it really was.
‘Alright everybody, let’s seriously rethink what we do but only on the proviso that we’d all be the exact same people doing the exact same job in the exact same way, offering the exact same products and services to the exact same clientele in the exact same market, so no changes …ok?’.
When we find ourselves in that kind of situation, here’s something we say out loud:
‘Imagine that while we’ve been sitting here our entire enterprise has been wiped from the face of the earth. Nothing exists; no systems, structures, cultures or processes. All that’s left is the market we serve and a handful of the smartest people you’ve ever met. If you had the chance to start again, from scratch, what would be different?’
Then all we have to do is stand back to make way for some very big thinking.
We call this ‘Square One’ and sometimes it really is the best place to look for fresh ideas.