“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
— Charles H Duell,
Director of the US Patent Office, 1899
“If we all worked on the assumption
that what is accepted as true is really true,
there could be little hope of advance.”
— Orville Wright, Flyer, Inventor
The older I get, the more I appreciate all the events I’ve experienced and the learning opportunities I’ve had. When I was reading this Orville Wright quote, I remembered an event, or rather a class I attended that has stayed with me all these years.
It was as I recall in early 1994. Oldsmobile was just beginning production on a “game changer” car for the company called the Aurora. GM had sales managers, dealers, service managers from all over the country come to Michigan to attend a multi-day training class to educate everyone on the unique features (a radical change in body strength, and more) of this new car and at the same time try to create a new paradigm with some unique training about thinking.
It was a marvelous class and experience. In most of these seminars or classes, they would have dealers and managers segregated, but in these classes everyone was thrown together purposely. We also had tours of the plant, and a huge meeting of all participants and upper level GM staff. In the 30 years I was in the car business, it is the only training class that stood out so far above all the rest, and there were some good ones in all those years.
What stood out the most was changing the way we thought about things in doing some exercises that tested our thinking process. For example, groups of us would stand in a circle and we were given a small ball and the idea was that each person in the group had to touch it and pass it to the next. The events were timed. So, the first one was sort of obvious and slow. Then we were challenged to do it considerably faster. So, we moved closer to each other and did it again. Faster time. Then again and again, and each time there were dramatic improvements which made the first time look silly.
There were many such exercises, not all timed and others tested our thinking in different ways. By the time the classes were over, everyone was expanded and enlightened to test the status quo and think of creative ways to solve issues or just see things in new ways.
I realized after this class that there are an infinite number of ways in which things can be improved and that we are the only roadblock toward that improvement. It has helped me to look at many things since in different ways and to consider infinite possibility. My gratitude remains to GM for putting this event on and for the dealer who took me along.
“The Difficulty Lies Not So Much In Developing New Ideas As In Escaping From The Old Ones.”
–John Maynard Keynes
Spread Some Joy Today–What would happen if you did things backward today? Or upside down? What if you told all the people you work with that you liked them or loved them? What if everything went perfectly today?