We all wax poetic about the power of genius, as well we should. Those with the exceptional intellect to see through the orthodoxy of conventional thinking and to forge breakthroughs based on game changing epiphanies, are universal treasures.
But they are as rare as total eclipses of the sun. The fact is, most of human life is driven by mental dwarfs with closed minds lacking an iota of curiosity or courage.
When I first started my business career, I would ask the zombiecrats in the large corporations why they did what they did the way they did it. And the response was always one version or another of “because that’s the way we have always done it here.”
Try to introduce a truly innovative idea into an organization of virtually any size, and it will be shouted down as “impossible, implausible, too risky, dangerous, too much work, unpredictable” and on and on and on. Why? Because most people get as comfortable in old, tired, failed ways of doing things as they do with the worn in slippers they keep by their beds.
Always, it takes a true entrepreneur to break through this stone wall of closed-minded myopia. Do you think you would have had your job for 10 minutes if you tried the “can’t do it” routine with Steve Jobs? With Gates when he was still a capitalist? With Disney, Ford, Edison?
The older a company gets and the further removed it drifts from the entrepreneurial spirit that founded it, the more it reverts to a post office mentality: coffee, lunch, smoke break, out the door at five, pension time. Remember when Hewlett Packard was a forest fire of ingenuity? When Dell was a rocket ship? I haven’t been inside their walls but I can see the close-minded disease a mile away.
The truth is we live in a mostly close-minded world. Most organizations are stuck in their own mud. Congress can’t do a damn thing. The Middle East never heals. Talking heads scream on the TV night and day.
We all must recognize that what we don’t know is far greater than what we know and that what we believe strongly in may be based on biases that we must sit down now and then and challenge. Just to see if they hold up and if there’s a better way.