The innovation path must run away from the old before heading towards the new
In these times of financial crunch and flat growth, there will inevitably be advocates of a return to old Keynesian economics. However successful Keynes’ ideas may have been in their time, I somehow doubt that the same recipes that brought the world back from the Great Depression would work just the same. And it may well be that Keynes himself would also be looking for new ideas if he, rather than his economics, were to return:
“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”
John Maynard Keynes
In innovation-speak we use words such as disruptive, breakthrough, rule-breaking, outside the box, leapfrogging. All these suggest indeed some kind of barrier raised by our current mind frame, which we have to overcome before a new idea can truly take shape.
Most religions have an annual celebration where people must get rid of the clutter that has accumulated during the past year, clean the house thoroughly, and move into a new cycle with a refreshed mind and renewed energy. (Coincidentally, as I was drafting this post, I learned that today is such a day for Tamils, who celebrate the Thai Pongal festival).
Perhaps companies too should have an annual festival where projects that have been limping along are joyously scrapped, where assumptions about how to run their business are re-assessed, where old ideas are shelved, so that new light can be shed on new ideas.