Don’t Let What You Know Limit What You Imagine | LinkedIn

A thought-provoking blog from Bill Taylor about a book written by Cynthia Barton Rabe.

In her underappreciated book, The Innovation Killer, Cynthia Barton Rabe, a former innovation strategist at Intel, explains how “what we know limits what we can imagine.” Many organizations, she argues, struggle with a “paradox of expertise” in which deep knowledge of what exists in a marketplace or a product category makes it harder to consider what-if strategies that challenge long-held assumptions.

If expertise actually hinders innovation, then how can we encourage innovation?

Her answer to the paradox is to populate organizations with “zero-gravity thinkers”: innovators “who are not weighed down by the expertise of a team, its politics, or ‘the way things have always been done.’” In Rabe’s formula, zero-gravity thinkers come from outside the corporate mainstream and work deep within the ranks of the organization. They are designers, ethnographers, anthropologists, and other creative types who get immersed in a project or a team, contribute their unique points of view, and then move on to the next change-the-game assignment. Ideal zero-gravity thinkers, she explains, have “psychological distance” from the setting in which they work, “renaissance tendencies” that draw on a range of interests and influences, and “related expertise” that allows them to find the points where blue-sky ideas intersect with real-world opportunities.

If only we philosophers were a bit more entrepreneurial, we’d be in dialogue with folks from business schools, including Harvard’s.

But we know nothing about business!

Indeed — that’s the point.

But that’s not an idea that serious philosophers are likely to entertain. Non-philosophers, such as Nietzsche, may take a different attitude:

I would believe only in a god who could dance. And when I saw my devil I found him serious, thorough, profound, and solemn: it was the spirit of gravity – through him all things fall.

Don’t Let What You Know Limit What You Imagine | LinkedIn.

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