Thin line between shock and surprise  


Traffic Lights

Although new ideas are needed, it is definitely not a guarantee new ideas are embraced. People are in the operating modus and as a result have the tendency to rely on routine. New ideas are out of the ordinary, have the tendency to brake routines and often take time to be implemented and, most importantly, make money.

That’s why new ideas often are perceived as a shock and that creates resistance. So the challenge is to make the idea come as a uplifting surprise. I made a small analysis of how ideas can be embraced:

How it is told
Most importantly it is the way the idea is told. Actually, it is better not to explain the idea. The best way is to define the problem, translate that into an opportunity and describe it in am inspiring way, so that people discover the idea almost by themselves. Words that help selling the idea are ‘imagine’ of ‘for example’,

Who’s telling it
Resistance can be a result of ego or focus and as a result, not anybody in an organisation can be the bringer of an idea. So the idea maker has to be tactical in choosing people to share the idea with. That also means the idea maker has to set aside his or her ego and focus on the added value it can bring to many.

When is it told
Interestingly enough, ideas are more embraced when others have already done it. Especially when it’s been successful. Problem of course is that it’s not original anymore and is actually not a new idea, but a copycat.

Actually the latter is the proof, that when you’re able to create the right story around a new idea and are able to tell it in an inspiring way, the biggest change people embracing it one creates.

It reminds me of a quote of David Ogilvy:

“In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman”

Thin line between shock and surprise  

Innovators and Path Creators

The properties of a Path Creator are: Pace, Focus Friends and Patience

The Path

To discover the world I like to run.

Whether I am in a new town or on holidays, I believe it’s a good way to get to know the environment (and stay healthy at the same time ;-)).  Also when I’m running from the house I like to discover new paths. On one on my runs I had an interesting metaphor.

Innovation is creating paths in the wilderness

Old paths are just there. Everyone takes them, so the ground is worn and the surface flat. Even in the dark, just a little moonshine lights up the light colour of the path. That is easy and relaxed running. At any pace.

The thing with new paths is that they’re new.
Therefore they are not there. It’s a potential path.

A potential path is just a very attractive area. To create a path means running from where you are to some point at the horizon. The point of freedom, freshness, new things, an adventure!

But because there’s no path, the ground is rough, rocky and unequal. The grass is high and robust and the risk of twisting an ankle or trip is always present.

That’s also why other people are not running there. They are afraid of the unfamiliar and the risk of twisting an ankle or fall over on the face.

It is the innovator that has to create the path and the best way to create a new path is to adapt speed and stay focussed on the surface so you don’t trip. You need to keep in shape to run the same track over and over again.

At this point it is good to inspire other runners to join. Together it is easier to create a path faster. The more feet on the rough ground, that faster it wears out.

Suddenly you see other runners are joining in, speeding up the path creating process. Let’s call them early adaptors and yes, we’re talking about the Adaptation curve.

After a while when more runners join in, you’ll notice your speed increases, thoughts start wondering again and suddenly you realize the rough track has turned into a path.

Not only that, more people are lining up to start running your path. Young, old, female, male. Their hesitating, but eventually they’re inspired enough to take the change to start running your new path as well. This is closing the gap or chasm.

Schermafbeelding 2013-09-12 om 12.01.47

Actually, the path becomes boring again.

It’s time to start finding a new path, but remember:
Pace, Focus, Friends and Patience.


Innovators and Path Creators

Balance the Un-balance

Nik Wallenda

The dark side of ‘Balance’ is you become lazy. Things go right, so why worry.

The risk is, that when there’s a sudden change, you’re not prepared at all. That isn’t a problem of course, a sudden change is an opportunity as well. The real problem is, that because of this laziness you’re not quick enough to move and see the opportunity, let alone to seize it.

That’s why I preaching the Balance of the Un-balance, in other words, not becoming lazy. It is about ‘staying alert’ let’s say it’s being on the positive side of ‘What if’ scenario’s.

The good thing of embracing un-balance is that you train some kind of muscle.

I had to think about my 12 month old son who just started to walk. Looking at his cute little feet, there are 2 things I notice:

1. The wobbling of his feet when he’s standing still. It is really great to look at and amazing the boy can suddenly walk!
2. His feet are flat, they don’t have the ‘arc’ adults have and it is exactly what the wobbling is doing. Training the muscle that creates the arc and ultimately Balance.

That is what Balance the Un-balance is, the wobbling, training the muscle for the ark. In this case it is training eyes and mind to be alert for changes and opportunities.

It is also training the Serendipity Muscle: Finding what your not looking for.

Balance the Un-balance


I think serendipity is one of the most beautiful words in the world.

Just taste it: se-ren-dip-i-ty. So good and it looks good as well.

It has a great origin, if I might add. It is based on a Persian fairy tale in which three princes of Serendip, (now Sri Lanka) traveled the world.

Have a read: . The word was ‘made up’ by Horace Walpole in 1754.

Needless to say, it is one of my favourite words. I think it’s a magic word.

The general idea: “making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of…”. I prefer to say it simple: find what you’re not looking for.

Serendipity it’s no sinecure: Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin that way. He wasn’t looking for it, Wilhelm Roentgen x-rays, Pfizer Viagra, Charles Goodyear vulcanized rubber, Harry Hoover stumbled by accident on Post-it’s, not the least of the inventions I would say..

I believe this a very interesting concept and think most of the people find just what they’re looking for. That sounds very boring.

I myself have a few techniques making serendipity happen. One of them I call snoitnevnoc. It’s conventions spelled backwards. The idea is simple: define the conventions and turn them around.

There are two interesting parts.

  1. You have to know the conventions. This is about knowledge (or curiosity). Knowing the facts, knowing your customer, the trends the competition, the products, everything. If you don’t know this, how can you make good decisions? Many people don’t (hey I didn’t say it was easy!).
  2. One has to have the guts and the insights to turn them around. Now it gets tricky. Conventions are the way things are usually done, so that is scary. It really gets people out of their ‘comfort zone’. But, it’s the basis for new thinking. Without it it’s hard to come up with something new.

A few years back I wrote some copy for a back pack customer:

“No man ever changed the world by doing nothing. Serendipity is the power of being prepared to discover the unexpected. Mankind’s greatest revelations have been brought into being that way. Therefore it’s wise to keep an open mind and let reality surprise you.”

I think we should all become more serendip thinkers. Not only that, I believe it is necessary to postpone any judging (yourself and others!) and try to see things form a different perspective, with different eyes and new a mindset. You’ll never know what you will find. You’ll never know when you can change the world…

Happy serendipping!