New ideas suggest improvement. With improvement comes change. New ideas create new business -- it's called growth.
Conservative thinking tends to override creativity. Imagination and hunches are dismissed as unverifiable or uncontrollable, therefore unusable. But even the most rigorous application of logic does not answer some of the most basic questions.
Everyday decision-making involves common sense, which is as much intuition and imagination as it is reason and information. These "soft arts" of the mind are vital tools for assessment and judgment.
When faced with uncertainty or ambiguity, we often try to restore a sense of order and predictability by holding fast to established procedures, conveniently ignoring the fact that now is never quite the same as the past.
Holding to conservative thinking prevents change. Yet what is living except adapting to circumstances? If living demands flexibility, so must business life.
When we refuse to embrace, or at least tolerate, ambiguity and uncertainty, we discourage the intuitive and imaginative powers of our minds from helping us to see new prospects. Yet the problems we deal with in the everyday business of living -- big ones and small ones, complex and simple ones -- are constantly changing. The way we teach ourselves to think about uncertainty and ambiguity either contributes to or limits our success in solving our problems. No manner of pretending things are simpler than they are will make them that way.
If good solutions or great ideas came about strictly by accumulating facts and filtering them through reason and experience, then each of us would be able to tackle any problem successfully. Any one of us could be as smart as Einstein and as clever as MacGyver if we studied enough and experienced enough.
Hitting the genius level would be a matter of how hard we studied (to accumulate the facts) and how much we explored the world (to gather experience). Plenty of each would assure success. But it doesn't happen that way.
Consider the similarities between dreaming and worrying. (I'm using "dreams" to mean "daydreams" -- conscious awareness of hope or fancy -- distinct from sleeping dreams.)
Worrying about the uncertain aspects of a situation is a form of anticipation. Getting a charge out of the prospect of something new is a form of anticipation, too. Both feelings are created by our imagination. Having a tendency to do more of one than the other is an emotional predisposition, not a rational process. Worries and dreams are made of the same stuff.
Worrying has you imagining negative possibilities; dreaming of new achievements has you thinking of positive ones. Neither has the power to affect the future in any direct way. The event is strictly mental. It goes on entirely inside the head, never touching reality -- unless you take action based on the dreams or fears.
In either, you are reproducing images that have been laid down in your memory, then combining them with other ideas to create images about what might happen. Depending on what images you choose, this mixing and matching produces either an optimistic or pessimistic picture of what might happen. There's nothing scientific about it. On the contrary, imagining what the future could be like is about as subjective an activity as humans ever do. It reveals how selective memories can be.
In getting through childhood, each of us has endured enough scary experiences to teach us that things are seldom as bad as they first appear, and that living automatically presents an endless stream of new situations. Why as adults we think this is likely to change, or that it should, is a quirk in our natures.
There are a few relentless adventurers among us, those who seek new thoughts and new vistas as habitually as others sleep in on Sundays. But many of us find it difficult to accept the fact that change requires abandonment of the present viewpoint in order to open options to a new direction.
What if every sales manager in America opened the next staff meeting with the question, "What if we take twenty minutes today to discuss any wild and crazy idea anyone has on how to improve our productivity and profitability?" What if you greeted change as an ally?