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Best Ideas Spring From Chaos

Collaboration written by Luis Solis, President of Imaginatik and author of Innovation Alchemists, What Every CEO needs to know to hire the right Chief Innovation Officer

 

"Can't talk, have back-to-back calls for days."

"No meetings without an agenda 72 hours before."

"My vacation itinerary is complete. Have scheduled relaxation for five days."

"I didn't have time to really get to know her. The business side took up all of the time."

"We must get these specific outcomes done. Anything less is failure

Let's be honest: control works wonders. On a business level control yields productivity. Things get done; all sorts, even trivial ones.

On a personal level, control can provide mental peace, manage anxiety, stave off anger and even circumvent depression. But for how long? And at what price?

What does excessive control look like (just in case you are asking, well, am I into controlling my environment)? Staying very busy; most of the time. Eliminating surprises, even when you are on holiday. Refusing to deviate from the agenda. Lacking personal vulnerability ("face it, I am just never wrong...nor transparent"). Following a precise rigid schedule. Objecting to a late-comer to dinner or to a meeting (but they weren't invited!).

It basically boils down to reducing the risk of encountering the unknown, the variable or the unexpected. When overdone, control casts predictability as a false god. Yet something tells me control gets in the way of Maslowe success. Fully actualized, life makes room for messiness and celebrates the unexpected.

 

If only it really worked: LIFE defies our need for predictability or control. And the consequences for business innovation are catastrophic.

All of us harness control to create happy lives. The problem occurs when excessive control defeats our purpose, which in some cases is to reap the benefits ofserendipity. Horace Walpole coined the word serendipity in 1754 to describe "fortunate happenstance" or "pleasant surprise". Serendipity or surprise is the stuff great vacations -- and exceptional lives -- are made of.

In the world of Innovation most CEO's and Chief Innovation Officers (CINO's) pay handsomely for happy accidents, for those new products or services or models with the potential to boost the top line by 10-20%. As I wrote in "Innovation Alchemists",superior CINO's deliberately create a proper environment for frequent desirable discoveries. Chapter 8 summarizes numerous exercises to tap your inner serendipity in all walks of life.

 

Ready to boost your own top life-line by 10-20%? Take a hard look at the role of control in your daily rituals.