Still haven’t gotten around to making your new year’s resolutions?  The Pink Blog is here to help.

I asked my friend, Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor, to do the work for us — and offer up a few resolutions to help us work better and innovate faster in 2011.

The three suggestions listed below come from Bill’s smart and energetic new book, Practically Radical: Not-so-crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself, which debuts today. (Buy it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, 8CR, or Indie Bound).

So steal Bill’s resolutions. Then pick up a copy of Practically Radical for yourself for even more wisdom.

***

1. I resolve to help my organization (and me personally) become “the most of something” in my field. It’s not good enough to be “pretty good” at everything. The most successful organizations (and people) are the most of something—the most elite, the most affordable, the most elaborate, the most approachable.  For so long, companies were content operating in the middle of the road. Today, with so much change, so much pressure, so many new ways to do everything, the middle of the road has become the road to nowhere. What are you the most of?

2. I resolve to embrace a sense of vuja dé. We’ve all experienced déjà vu—looking at an unfamiliar situation and feeling like you’ve seen it before. Vuja dé is the flip side of that—looking at a familiar situation (an industry you’ve worked in for decades, problems you’ve worked on for years) as if you’ve never seen it before, and, with that fresh line of sight, developing a distinctive point of view on the future. The challenge for all of us is that too often, we let what we know limit what we can imagine. This is the year to face that challenge head-on.

3. I resolve to look for new ideas in new places. The more I study innovation, the less enamored I become of “benchmarking” the competition. What good is it to compare yourself against “best practice” in your field, especially if “best practice” isn’t that great to begin with? The most creative leaders aspire to learn from people and organizations far outside their field as a way to shake things up and make real change. Strategies and practices that are routine in one industry can be revolutionary when they migrate to another field. Do you have new ideas about where to look for new ideas?”

16 Responses to “3 resolutions for making 2011 practically radical”

  1. Couldn’t agree more on point 3.
    We don’t believe in “best practise”, we believe in “best principle” which is exactly what you describe above: Looking new places to get new ideas.
    It is about learning what others do and take the best principles from what they are doing and applying them to your own business. This is how we have had lawyers learn from Build-A-Bear, Renovation companies learn from Disney, etc. Thus, there really are no limitations to where you can get ideas for your own business.

  2. What strikes me about these is that they are not definite promises, like “I resolve (promise) to lose 15 pounds.” Those are always the killers. Instead, these are resolutions – a desire to change – and are fluid, flexible, and can be something you carry with you rather than something you shoot for.

    And for that, these are really great. I’ll have to check out Bill’s book soon.

    Thank you, Dan.

  3. Chaa Creek says:

    This is a great book!

  4. Jared says:

    Jemais vu

  5. binita walia says:

    Brilliant. Thanks for sharing this. I am very inspired. I have spent 7 months developing an application for creatives all about ideas development and sharing inspiration which is due to launch in Feb and what you are saying confirms I am on the right tack.

    Ideas are everything – I am proving myself that creativity = ideas and innovation. I am living proof as for 15 years I was making artworks for the public domain doing OK but no way as successful as I wanted to be.

    I went to creative thinking workshops and my life changed. I always thought being artistically creative was a curse and now I am deeply grateful.

    Happy new year and good luck to you all in 2011.

  6. It sounds very inspiring; what I’m amazed of is about finding new ideas in old places (right under our nose).

    In 2011 I look forward to strategic thinking, innovation and snowball-effect buzz marketing campaigns. You guys?

  7. quentin says:

    “the middle of the road has become to road to nowhere” should be “the middle of the road has become the road to nowhere”.

    I resolve to be the best grammar policeman I can be in 2011 with a fresh line of sight on spelling and grammar mistakes.

  8. Credit where credit is due please – George Carlin came up with the concept of vuja de.

  9. Dan Pink Dan Pink says:

    @alex — Bill mentions that in his book. In this very short blog post, he didn’t have the room to trace the genesis of the term.

  10. Dan,

    Thoughtful post! For innovative thinking, the point Bill makes in #3 is critical. Best practices analysis has its value but it is replication of existing practices. Everyone is following the same path, but the direction everyone is traveling is not being challenged. It is not a cure-all as you mentioned.

    Years ago, I had a boss who was a basic research scientist. He explained to me that many of the best scientific discoveries came unexpectedly through basic experimentation or through networking by scientists in very different disciplines. He explained that bringing skilled people together who worked in very different environments and letting them interact leads to novel discoveries. His explanation helped me to understand why academic freedom is so important to scientists. This also explains why Google and 3M give many of their employees freedom to experiment on different projects. Like the post-it note story it leads to unexpected success.

    The more we are able to “break our pattern” and “challenge assumptions” the more innovative we will become. For 2011, I have resolved to add two words to my vocabulary as a source for generating new ideas. In 2011, I am going to ask, “Why not,” more often and see what materializes.

    Great post!

    Regards,

    Robert

  11. It seems to me that #2 and #3 are very much interrelated. It’s much easier for someone outside the organization to look at the organization with fresh eyes, but I suppose that’s obvious. It’s a wonder as to why more organizations don’t hire people from neighboring fields as consultants (or independent contractors, if you wish) to work with them.

    This idea of cross-pollination in education and business seems to be the most meaningful and useful idea to me. There are people that are good at focusing on the micro and they are important to have on the team. On the flip side, it is equally (if not more) important to have people who are not directly involved with the minutia of the company (this includes CEOs or high-level management, as their day-to-day work still involves the company to a very large degree), so that they can see the company with fresh eyes. They can look at two departments and see that they both will function better if there was just this minor tweak between one part of something and BOOM! You’ve just increased your profits 2% because of something simple like that.

    With Love and Gratitude,

    Jeremiah

  12. Ronald Janki says:

    Hi Dan, I like the third part of the resolutions “I resolve to look for new ideas in new places.” I agree that strategies and practices are only conduits that can lead us to meaningful creativity. We need to expand, bend, and reinvent these conduits to achieve creativity and the goal we are seeking.

  13. Elaine Fogel says:

    Love the line, “the middle of the road has become the road to nowhere.”
    That one’s a keeper! 🙂

  14. Rebecca Zimmerman says:

    I’m with Jared, I prefer the proper term (for number two), “jamais vu” ‘never seen.’ It is correct French and is also in use in psychology already. Why create a new term when one already exists?

  15. Akash Bhatia says:

    Nice post.

    #3 really resonates with me. Most consulting companies organize their practices around industry verticals (e.g. Financial Services, Manufacturing, Retail etc.) with their consultants expected to have deep domain knowledge in that vertical. This is important.

    However, the most interesting discussions always happen when cross industry experts are in engagements together. The biggest barrier to this is the way that P&L’s at most consulting companies are organized and the way that consultants are measured. Good food for thought on how the consulting organization of the future (2011?) should be structured.

    Thanks,

    Akash

  16. David Lapin says:

    Thanks for this, Daniel.
    Following piece from Lead By Greatness, see http://bit.ly/lTLKra:

    “Leaders of character are authentic. They know who they are and what the values and beliefs are that drive their choices. Their actions align with their values both in business and beyond as they courageously lead by their own greatness. Rather than imitating the “best practices” of others they set the bar for best practice, and leave their competitors striving to emulate them. They do not look over their shoulder at what their competitors are doing because that just places a cap on what they themselves could be doing.”

Leave a Reply