“Stop trying to use old solutions on new problems!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
We can’t do today what we did yesterday knowing that our circumstances are fundamentally different – and we sure as heck can be sure that it won’t work tomorrow! We need to have a flood of new ideas with new solutions to deal with the fact that change is ongoing, relentless, and overwhelming.
With that being the case, change things up! It’s always better to be part of the solution – rather than be a part of the problem! And here’s the sad truth – you’re part of the problem if you have old solutions! You’re part of the problem if you keep reaching into your kit bag of old solutions! You’re part of the problem if you never have any new solutions!
Old solutions are the easy way out; they are based on long-established assumptions, habits, and routines. They’re comfortable. They’re what we know how to do – they don’t challenge us in any way. They’re easy. They align with that the fact that we can often become lazy and complacent. Or they are based on the reality that we can become too confident that what worked in the past will work tomorrow.
But those old solutions probably won’t work! The approach of trying old ideas on new challenges never works, simply because of the nature of the word new.
At the root of many old solutions are assumptions – and the problem with an assumption is that it usually becomes an excuse for inaction! Here’s a dangerous idea based on old solutions – the idea that what we sell now will always be what we will always sell in the future! We’ll sell it to the same old customers with the same old value proposition, never changing what we do because they assume that no one else will ever come along to change things up.
Blockbuster, Nokia, RIM, Kodak, and others had a great business model and great products for a time, built on a foundation of assumptions. Oops!
Assumptions can ruin you since they reinforce your inability to make decisions – because you assume you don’t need to make any. They help to build walls of belief systems that hide you from the stark realities that you are faced with. They stop you from peering around your blind spots to see what might be around the corner. And they put you into a space where you keep trying the same old solutions to new problems.
Innovate organizations and the leaders that drive them forward never let the status quo define their future. They know that they need to challenge their team to rethink redo strategy; relearn key skills; reexamine strategies; reinvent structure; redo methodologies; reinvent solutions. Nothing is sacred – everything is on the table. Including solutions to new problems. Often on stage, I’ll run with one of my go-to phrases: “Challenge assumptions! Eliminate habit! Banish routine!”
That’s why every day it’s a good idea to run through a list of some of the assumptions that guide you in your day-to-day activities. Be prepared to examine them through a lens of honesty. Deconstruct them, challenge them, and put them to the test. Because at the end of the day, the assumptions you make are often the platform on which you will fail – and the foundation for the solutions you try to pursue.
Find routines. Break them.
Pinpoint habits. Smash them.
Identify traditions. Abandon them.
Discover patterns. Reorganize them.
Because the future abhors consistency!
Examine solutions. Banish them – find new ones!