The best business leaders want to innovate, embrace change, and create new business approaches because they recognize the need to evolve. And yet in business too many leaders still do things by the book and stick to the logic of reason and results to the exclusion of other ways of thinking. Too many of us think and operate primarily this way, especially during difficult times. The uncomfortable reality is that disruptive ideas come from the combination of instinct and play, so we’re pretty much thinking backward when it comes to engaging innovation. We’re rearranging our companies rather than exploring the many ways we could create a completely different kind of company. Organization has the potential to add the most value when it follows creative imagination possibilities, no when it precedes it.
Popular thought says that by applying more analysis, focusing more on results, and working harder to get those results, we will get to the new and different. But that is not the case. This is a forceful approach to change, but it’s not actually a smart approach to change. It’s certainly not a very creative approach to change. Given this way to thinking, however it’s no wonder that we’ve developed business models that are hard to sustain. The fragrance industry, the car industry, and the media industry, for example, have all been predominantly operating in the same way for many years, still try to innovate with reason to get results, and still hoping that if they use the same business models and the same management models they will be able to capture the market, keep sales afloat, and maintain margins. But that is not in the cards. In fact, the odds have been against it all along.
On an even larger scale, it’s no wonder that we’ve developed economic models that are not sustainable and that contribute to dwindling resources, climate change, and pollution. The way we’ve been thinking about development has been through the linear, rational management systems. But life unfolds according to very different principles. Most likely, if we haven’t integrated the fundamentals of play, intuition, and instinct into our development models, it’s because we haven’t conceived of them in the first place. Yet they present a huge opportunity.
It’s clear that we have evolved, progressed, grown, and prospered through a model that largely excludes the fundamentals of our ecosystem. But we’ve reached a place where the disconnect is so big that we have no choice but to think differently–really differently–and innovate radically. Play, intuition and instinct show us how to do just that. They show how we can think in a way that includes the fundamentals of life, the randomness of play, and the power and adaptive nature of our instinct for survival while responsibly harnessing our propensity for aggression and leveraging our valuable scientific heritage and its instrumental tool called logic. And if we’re able to do that, then we’ll be able to innovate and change more easily. We’ll also be able to prosper in a way that is more balanced between cooperation and competition, without compromising our ecosystems, our survival, and our legacy for future generations.
Excerpted from The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass, 2011.