No matter how dysfunctional the present, no matter how sensible the reasons for change, most people and organizations would rather wring out the old than ring in the new.
In the heat of the moment, it can be all too easy to generate solutions that take on a life of their own, without reference to the core values of the people developing them or those expected to implement them.
One of the major barriers to productive thinking is the almost compulsive drive in most business organizations to be right.
But as important as it is to see what's going on, it's unlikely that merely understanding the situation will do much to improve it. If you're interested in change, you need to develop a sense of possibility.
In my experience one of the most common causes for programs, products, and change initiatives that don't work is that the wrong question has been asked.
Ideas are mutable. They are always capable of growing. Each time we look at them, we can see something new. We just need to give ourselves permission to do so.
Preliminary ideas are often weak and impure, and need to be driven through a forge in order to become powerful, workable solutions.
If you let it, your mind will celebrate new stimuli by automatically making dozens of unexpected connections for you. If you pay attention to them, you may discover the answer you've been looking for.
When you try to generate ideas, think of yourself as a sales person knocking on a whole subdivision of doors. Some won't open at all, some will open a suspicious crack, and some will slam in your face. But the more doors you knock on, the greater your chances of being invited in.
Sometimes it's just not practical to go through the effort of creating a new solution when an existing solution will do the job almost as well.
If things weren't messy, or getting messy, there would be no discontent, and you wouldn't need productive thinking in the first place.
As in any discipline, to become good you need first to learn the rules. To become great, you need to break them.
Often the true causes of our discomfort are so integral to our environment that we fail to recognize them.
We think the more detailed and exhaustive our plans, the more likely the future will actually mirror our vision. But it rarely even comes close.
As soon as you establish concrete intention, you begin to notice all kinds of things in your world that relate to that intention. Ideas and opportunities seem to appear from nowhere, almost as though by magic.