In A Shot Of Optimism

Over the weekend, I took my grandchildren to the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, home to a staggering variety of vehicles – the blimp-like brushed metal Dymaxion designed by Buckminster Fuller back in the 30’s, highly polished sports cars including an MG from the 50’s, a sleek sexy type E Jaguar from the 70’s and military amphibious landing vehicles with ten-foot-tall tires.

The signs beside each car identified the designer – that person who had a vision of wanting to design something special, something that addressed a previously unaddressed problem, something unique. One example was a car that had two steering wheels and two front seats.The driver never had to back-up, he just went to the other side of the car and drove forward. The designer was a rescue worker and too many times had to back down a mountain road, at great risk. His design would make sure that wouldn’t happen again. And that’s just one example.

These museum-worthy designers had one thing in common: They were willing to iterate and to innovate; to use parts, ideas, and technology that had been used before, while at the same time seeing what could be added, deleted, and modified to make something fresh and new.

It is often tempting to throw out the baby with the bathwater and start with a clean slate. But often opportunities are missed when we forget to assess what we already have and learn the art of iteration and innovation.

Three questions will get you on your way if you are faced with a challenging situation:

What part of the puzzle works and how can I use it?
What modification would make this work better?
What can I eliminate to make space for something new to come forth?

This art of iteration and innovation can be incredibly powerful, whether you are developing a product, founding a new business or starting a relationship.

Have the courage to have a new vision and the patience to ask: What’s here that is useful?

Until next Tuesday,



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