Great Innovators Think Laterally
Do you ever wonder why cars aren't called "horseless carriages" anymore? Today's cars are just as horseless as they were a century ago. Horselessness is standard equipment on most new and late models, both foreign and domestic.
Ian Gonsher and Deb Mills-Scofield
Notes that even though the term horseless carraige is not used today, we still know that it means car because history synthesizes or merges the ideas together. Traces of the horse are still found in many of the names of vehicles (Mustang, Bronco, etc.), whose force is measured in horsepower. History merges with the present.
This is a useful way of understanding innovation:
- "Thesis:" a statement about a paradigm, such as transportation invovlving horses and buggies.
- "Antithesis:" a statement that opposes or makes obsolete that thesis, such as cars and trucks.
- "Synthesis:" the conditions which arise from the tension between the two, with the car predominating, but still connected to the past horseless carriage.
Innovators attempt to push beyond the first two to find the blending and unification in synthesis, rather that thinking of the thesis and antithesis as two completely opposing paradigms.
This innovative thinking involves the power to move horizontally or laterally across the two paradigms, rather than considering them isolated within themselves. So, lateral thinking involves the synthesis of ideas that on the surface appear to be completely different, but underneath, historically, share much in common.
This is just one example of lateral thinking to which we could add flight, similar in that they are forms of transportation, but different in means. This type of thinking across different domains of knowledge leads to innovation.
When we consider the past and present of innovation along lateral paths, we can invision what will come next, what possibilities the future holds.
Innovative thinking breaks out of the known, the assumed, and the past to extend to new domains and intersections of knowledge. The opposite of innovation is to remain so entrenched vertically in the horse and buggy that one cannot see laterally across other knowledge which will lead to the car.
Interested? Click the title or image to read on.
Source is Blogs.HBR.org
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Before you go, what other qualities lead to innovation? How do you innovate?