Change & Innovation: The Benefits of Reinventing the Wheel

“Reinventing the wheel…” It is a phrase sometimes used to refer to overcomplicating things.

When introducing a new strategy or approach, many say, “Whatever you do, please don’t reinvent the wheel.”

When we need a strategic breakthrough, what is truly needed to reach the next level?

“Cars you can drive will eventually be outlawed.” It is a provocative statement, but according to Tesla Motors Elon Musk, this may be a fact of life rather than a dream of science fiction sooner, rather than later. When was the last time you saw an elevator operator helping you get to your destination? More likely than not, you simply pressed a button that took you to the floor where you needed to go. Or better yet, there are the smart elevators without any buttons at all.

Business icon Henry Ford is well known for making the first affordable automobile with his successful implementation of the assembly line. Little known fact, the Model-T was originally available in several colors before transitioning to its iconic black. Many innovations are “before their time”. In its early days some skeptics suggested Apple be shut down and the money be given back to the shareholders.

Whether or not we are “reinventing the wheel” or making a breakthrough has a good deal to do with our frame of reference. We would be well served to look at our world view, aversion to risk, tolerance for ambiguity, willingness to fail, self-awareness, and attachment to the familiar. As executives, professionals and leaders, these are the areas where we can set the example that will lead to change and success. We cannot expect our teams to embrace diversity, take prudent risk, and achieve superior results if we do not set the tone.

Successful innovators often seem to have overcome astronomical odds to achieve success. The reality is straightforward. Breakthrough innovation is built upon many years, decades and centuries, of small, often unrecognized changes, inventions, ideas, successes and failures of those who have gone before. The recognized innovation often culminates because of timing, and the willingness to overcome fears, take risk, and let go of the what has worked in the past.

New ideas can be scary, but are necessary if humanity is to advance. In the words of Thomas Alva Edison, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Leaders of today can take this charge, to be at the forefront of “reinventing the wheel.”

Change & Innovation: The Benefits of Reinventing the Wheel ©Change Create Transform 2015