CHAPTER 6The Problem with Solving Problems: Introducing Future Solving

If you were to write down the three most innovative creations from your career or from your organization, what would they be, and when were they invented?

In the life cycle of an organization, once an innovative breakthrough is made and a system is developed, leaders of each individual part of the system are incented to optimize their individual parts. This is aligned with organizational structures as well as the educational system, and is an inheritance of the Industrial Revolution and mechanistic thinking. If an organization is a large machine, then the individual parts should be designed to run smoothly, improve incrementally, and reduce risk.

In 1951, a leader at Bell Labs called a meeting of departmental leaders and entered the room in a charged emotional state. He grimly announced that the telephone system of the United States had been destroyed the preceding night. The leaders were confused, as many had used the telephone that morning. He proceeded to restate that the telephone system had been destroyed and that anyone who did not believe so by noon that day would be terminated. He had their attention.

After a sufficient amount of pause and allowing the leaders to process his assertion and threat, he began to laugh and released the tension. By manner of explanation, he asked the room about the most meaningful contributions to the development of telephonic communications ever made by Bell Labs, which ...

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