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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Reeve

Starting with the start in mind

Updated: May 13, 2020

Often times, we start with the end in mind. By doing so, we either rely on what has always been done or close off possibilities too soon. We narrow in on one direction before validating it with the customer and don't allow an idea to breathe. Like a fine wine. allowing a little air in the mix makes for a better outcome.

For companies looking to innovate, look at how much 'air time' you are allowing for ideas to percolate -- even in our harried, need-to-pivot now environment. Rushing to the end will get your new initiative out the door, but will it get the right initiative out the door?

Over the past couple of days, I witnessed expansion when new ideas were given some air to breathe. In one example, we were brainstorming around a new product and discussing how it would fit into the portfolio. In the first part of the discussion, we started with a fairly narrow viewpoint, constrained by what existed.

Then, the magic started to happen, led by the powerful phrase "what if...?" A tributary broke free from the main course of the conversation, then branched in different directions as more ideas came forth. More 'what ifs' led to new thinking. New thinking elevated the conversation and liberated us from the constraints of 'what had been' into a new construct for organizing the portfolio.

Giving ideas time to percolate can happen, like the above, in the course of a conversation. It can happen when you dedicate time to think (for SAFe followers, think of the Innovation and Planning Iteration). It can happen when you let the days events sit overnight and wake up with a new perspective.

The point is not to start with the end in mind, but to start with the start in mind. Let the start take you on a journey, one focused on the customer and filled with curiosity. Make a few mistakes along the way to avoid bigger mistakes at the end. Whenever possible, give innovation space to breathe. Allowing a little air in the mix makes for better outcomes.

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