There’s a lot we can learn about creative problem solving from pioneers like Carol Dweck, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Avis. They know how to push beyond the limits of what is believed possible.
No. No Limits.
For every time someone has said “it can’t be done” there’s always been someone else thinking “how can I do it?”
If history teaches us anything, it is that things that were once believed to be impossible, can be achieved.
Just watch any science fiction TV show from the 60s!
Pioneers are those who shun “can’t” and embrace “can’t yet”. They embrace challenges. Persist in the face of setbacks. Acknowledge that effort leads to mastery. Learn from criticism. Find lessons in the success of others.
In short, they don’t put a limit on what they can achieve.
Or, as Carol Dweck explains, they have a Growth Mindset.
Finding Lessons In The Success Of Others
When something is considered to be unreachable, it becomes the benchmark.
For some, it’s the limit.
For others, it’s a glass ceiling waiting to be shattered.
This is especially relevant to the three rule breakers below. They defied the norm successfully. They didn’t accept limitations. Instead, they transformed the sense of what was possible.
Afford A Ford
These days it’s hard to imagine a world without automation.
When Ford started building cars he did it in exactly the same way that every other car manufacturer did. One at a time.
This was the norm.
The car was built from the ground up by a team of mechanics. They would have to source parts, then return to the vehicle in order to assemble it.
Not a very efficient process. And very expensive.
Perfecting the assembly line concept turned the process on its head. Ford changed the game.
(Image courtesy of https://hymanltd.com/vehicles/6028-1921-ford-model-t-center-door-sedan/)
He wanted to mass-produce affordable vehicles. Increase efficiency and reduce costs. He wanted to push beyond the limits of what convention dictated at the time.
Instead of having mechanics going back and forth to fetch parts, Ford had the parts brought to the mechanics at appointed stations. The chassis was then moved between each station, stopping along the way to have parts fitted, until the car was completed. (https://www.ford.co.uk/experience-ford/history-and-heritage#assemblyline)
Ford was able to reduce the assembly time of a Model T from twelve and a half hours to under six.
When everyone else was limited to building one car at a time, Ford found a way to push beyond what was conventionally accepted.
Cost-efficient, affordable vehicles for the masses became a reality.
A small change in thinking, made a big difference.
Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod on 23rd October 2001. A revolutionary device. It pushed beyond the limits of the portable audio technology available at the time.
An entire music library that fit inside your pocket!
This was the coolest, sleekest and most exciting new tech accessory ever invented. Everybody wanted one. And everybody who had one, wanted everyone else to know it.
But there was a problem.
It couldn’t be seen if it was in your pocket!
So, how would people be able to show off this cool new music device?
Before the iPod, headphone cables were black.
No one had ever had a reason to make them a different colour.
Want stand out from the crowd?
Go from black to white.
“As psychologists and business experts have acknowledged since iPod’s release, the decision to make its earbuds all-white sent Apple’s cache as an uber-cool company into the stratosphere.” (http://uk.businessinsider.com/why-are-apple-headphones-white-2016-5?r=US&IR=T)
From Second Best, To Second Is Best.
No one ever remembers who came second in a race. (Apart from the person who came second.)
That all changed in 1962.
Advertising agency DDB helped Avis turn being ‘second best’ into a strength.
Hertz had historically dominated the American car rental market. DDB turned this to Avis’ advantage. They devised a campaign celebrating the company’s customer service. Because “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.”
“Within a year, Avis went from losing $3.2 million to earning $1.2 million[…] From 1963 to 1966, as Hertz ignored the Avis campaign, the market-share percentage gap between the two brands shrunk from 61–29 to 49–36. Terrified Hertz executives projected that by 1968 Avis might need a new ad campaign—because it would no longer be No. 2.”
Suddenly, being the best wasn’t as good as being second best.
That’s how you tear up the rulebook!
Sometimes, you need to openly acknowledge your limitations. It might just be the kind of thinking that sets you apart from everyone else.
Break Through The Glass Ceiling
Rules and perceived limits can act as psychological barriers.
They can make something seem daunting and unreachable. However, changing your mindset can transform a limiting factor into a target for success.
Conventional wisdom is the general and unquestioning acceptance of the limitations of someone else’s capacity and imagination.
Don’t be defined by what someone else said can or can’t be done.
Break the rules.
Persist in the face of setbacks.
Acknowledge that effort leads to mastery.
Learn from criticism.
Find lessons in the success of others.