What are the 15 Theories of Innovation?
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Last week, I posted an excerpt from the excellent new book, The Power of Impossible Thinking, which listed eight practices for impossible thinking. Hal Macomber, author of the Reforming Project Management Weblog, really loves this book, and has posted his own thoughts on how changing one’s mental model is an effective route to high-performance project management.

Last week, I posted an excerpt from the excellent new book, The Power of Impossible Thinking, which listed eight practices for impossible thinking. Hal Macomber, author of the Reforming Project Management Weblog, really loves this book, and has posted his own thoughts on how changing one’s mental model is an effective route to high-performance project management:

“What we think is what we see. If we want to see something else or something new, then we must adopt a different mental model.

What does this have to do with lean project delivery? People tell me it is impossible to think we can do projects with strangers without waste, delivered on time and on budget. The authors would argue that those people are right. They will not deliver projects with strangers without waste, delivered on time and on budget. However, there are numerous companies and project teams who think the impossible. They think they can. And they are also right. A division of one company delivered 29 projects in a row on time or early AND at or below budget. Now that’s impossibility thinking!

Our approach has been to fix the problems we encounter through automation, motivation, and process improvement. It hasn’t worked. Achieving change… must start with changing our own mental models.”

Thanks for your thoughts on this topic, Hal! Like him, I believe our mental models have a lot to do with our ability to be innovative. In many cases, corporate cultures force fit us into modes of “group think” that are the functional equivalent of working with blinders on, like a work horse. To paraphrase the authors of this book, what we think in our day-to-day work is limited by what we see right in front of us. We rarely look around to see what other possibilities and opportunities may be within our grasp.

Impossible thinking also has everything to do with developing disruptive innovations. You’ve got to be able to envision new products, new business models (new mental models for your market or industry) and new ways of adding value to customers.

What mental models do you use in your work and other life roles, that perhaps you’ve never even thought about? How might these mental models be limiting your outlook of what’s possible? And how do you need to change yoru mental models to release more creative energy and passion?

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