Businesses are too dependent on our 5 physical senses (which are inherently flawed). To grow and succeed; businesses need to build a culture that embraces nonsense!
What do I mean by our senses being inherently flawed?
Our senses of taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound are all constantly ‘on’ – sensing things and relaying that information to our brains. But because the amount of information this represents would likely render us immobile; it is drastically filtered. The filter is our highly-evolved Reticular Activating System (RAS) and the flaw is the vast amounts of information it ignores.
In simple terms; the RAS focuses your attention to familiar or important things in your life. If you recently purchased a red car; you likely notice the red cars on the road more than the blue ones. As beneficial as this can be; it comes with drawbacks and blind spots. A famous study reveals how significant our attentional blindness can be that we miss things happening right in front of our eyes.
(click here for a famous experiment)
Traditional business professionals are too focused on making rational, logical, or sensory-based decisions. In an effort to streamline, control, and force some sort of predictability; we have silenced some of the most powerful tools of humankind and refer to creativity, intuition, and imagination as NONSENSE!
If it weren’t for this sort of non-sense, we would never have any fun or pleasure (no entertainment or art). Nor would we have inventions such as the wheel, indoor plumbing, automobiles, airplanes, light bulbs, computers, or peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. Who would want to live in that world?
Each of these world-changing creations started out as an idea in one person’s mind that someone else deemed as ‘silly nonsense’. Some feel Dr. Seuss to be a little too silly but accept the notion from Albert Einstein; “logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere else.” Companies like Pixar/Disney, Google, and Apple are known for business cultures that foster creativity, insight, and imagination.
If you want to discover new opportunities in your business/industry; develop ways to embrace nonsense. Note: by definition, they won’t make logical sense; so here are a couple criterions to help filter or assess the potential of each new idea.
PASSION: The best creations come from people who have a burning desire to tinker and toil with an idea for countless hours (over months, years, or decades) without any real reward. This requires a level of dedication and passion by the developer that cannot be mandated or assigned. Allow some resources (time, funds, expertise) to help these ideas mature. Look towards university research funding for ideas or models on how this can be fostered. Research requirements, publishing quotas, and paid sabbaticals are great ways to support such developments.
Passion needs the investment of time and energy. As a high-school and college student; Bill Gates was introduced to computers and programming. But it was his sleepless nights spent at the lab where he could build experience and expertise through lots of safe failures.
DIRECTION: While many people tinker at home on projects that simply amuse them personally (with the idea that they will leave their ‘real job’ at some point); publicly sharing the direction and vision of the company can be a powerful tool to inspire and harness the passions and ideas of your team.
JFK and advisors didn’t know what it would take to put a man on the moon; but announcing the goal in such a public forum helped form the very vehicle for the ideas that would make that goal a reality. Similarly, Bill Gates wanted to see a computer on every desk; thus Microsoft became a framework for tools and ideas to make that happen.
PURPOSE: The world of nonsense is pretty big and is open for a great deal of interpretation. A clear concept of purpose, intent, or reason things are done is perhaps the most crucial. It inspires constructive debates, brings together seemingly different ideas into shared solutions, and allows for innovative thoughts.
The purpose of putting a man on the moon was not just to achieve that feat, or to do it before any other nation. With it came a sense of national pride, it helped us develop a reputation for innovation and technology, and lead directly to countless textiles, fabrics, inventions, and understanding that many of us now take for granted.
Bill Gates purpose was to help people reach their fullest potential and knew software could be a significant aspect of it. It is difficult to imagine an aspect of life that Microsoft hasn’t improved (or inspired).
The next time someone tells you an idea doesn’t make sense; thank them for the compliment and know that you are on to something new. Keep at it, share it with others, and build a culture where it can thrive.