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Exercise

Be Fanciful

Fill in the blanks. Seriously.

'What if . . . '

'I wonder . . . '

'Why don't we . . . '

'If only . . . ''I wish . . . '

'If I had a magic wand, I'd . . . '

'In a perfect world . . . '

'Wouldn't it be great if . . . '

'How could . . . '

'It might be that . . . '

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Most businesses look to their competitors for benchmarking or case studies. But too often, it's easy to succumb to insular thinking: 'I've been in the widget business for 10 years; I know the widget market like nobody else. I've studied how Acme Widgets and Universal Widgets run their shops. I under- stand what the widget consumer needs.'

That may be laughable, but insert your top product in place of 'widgets,' and it starts to have a familiar ring.

There's a short distance between using your experience and judgment as a guide and simply trying to repeat your past successes with no new element. That's safe evolutionary thinking instead of revolutionary thinking.

To use a movie analogy, movie sequels strain to duplicate the success of the original blockbuster. They have the same stars, the same stories, the same special effects. But here's the rub: What was 'Ooooh! Ahhh!' the first time around is 'Ho hum' the second, third, fourth, and fifth times.

Revisit Enemy Two, having a fixed rather than a fluid point of view. Are you trapped in thinking like an industry giant rather than a hungry start-up? Are you creating movie sequels to products rather than thinking up new genres? You can see how this enemy of innovation fits into the pattern of all the others: no-risk logical thinking.

I encourage my clients to look beyond rather than within their own industry. Direct your focus outside the world of widgets, and think about what feedback you might get from people who are far removed from your particular field.


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