View Poll Results: sociotype of Amanda Lang?

0. You may not vote on this poll
  • ILE (ENTp)

    0 0%
  • SEI (ISFp)

    0 0%
  • ESE (ESFj)

    0 0%
  • LII (INTj)

    0 0%
  • SLE (ESTp)

    0 0%
  • IEI (INFp)

    0 0%
  • EIE (ENFj)

    0 0%
  • LSI (ISTj)

    0 0%
  • SEE (ESFp)

    0 0%
  • ILI (INTp)

    0 0%
  • LIE (ENTj)

    0 0%
  • ESI (ISFj)

    0 0%
  • IEE (ENFp)

    0 0%
  • SLI (ISTp)

    0 0%
  • LSE (ESTj)

    0 0%
  • EII (INFj)

    0 0%
Multiple Choice Poll.
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Amanda Lang

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    30 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)

    Default Amanda Lang

    Amanda Lang: Ne-INFj (Creative subtype) [INFj-ENTp or EII-IXE] (Delta NF)

    I think Kevin O’Leary might be Te-ENTj (Dominant subtype) [ENTj-ESTj or ENTj-ENFj].

    Joseph Stiglitz [who may be Alpha (NT) – ILE-Ti? Normalizing subtype (ENTp-INTj) or LII-Ne??] was interviewed by Amanda Lang.

    This was from the Lang and O’Leary Exchange –

    Amanda Lang: As Europe struggles to maintain its fragile union, the United States of America is fighting to keep its head above water. With Merrill warning of another downgrade by year-end and unemployment stubbornly high, America's future appears more precarious by the day. Earlier today I spoke with Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and asked him what options government has left.

    Joseph Stiglitz: First of all, monetary policy is not going to work. What we need to do is stimulate our economy. The problem is lack of demand: You're not going to get it from consumers, you're not going to get it from investments given the weakness of the economy, you're not going to get it from exports given the problems in Europe . . . Only one other area, and that's government; and so the government needs to have another round of job creation, stimulus, whatever you want to call it. Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen in any significant extent. And in fact, what's happening is about a third of all government expenditures in the United States are at the state and local level and they are contracting. So if you look at the comparison between 2007 and today, government has not been stimulating: There has actually been a loss of government jobs. It's been one of the contributors to the slowdown of the economy.

    Amanda Lang: The hope was, I think by many (certainly in our country as well), that as government stimulus tapered off after we hit the recession, the private investment sector would pick up. Where is the private sector in the U.S.? Corporations are sitting on cash -- where is it?

    Joseph Stiglitz: Well, they made a very big mistake: What they thought was at the core of the problem was, you might call, a financial accident. We repair the financial sector, and we go back to normal. The big mistake was back in 2007, 2008, the economy was sick. It was sick in the sense that what kept it going was a bubble. Savings rate in the United States went down to zero. Well we're not going to be, or we shouldn't go back to that world. But with Americans saving still only 5, 6% there isn't anything to fill that hole, that consumption. So why shouldn't the private sector come back?

    Amanda Lang: So let's talk about the role of government here because the rhetoric is really now around austerity, a concern about debt and deficits. Can the U.S. government afford to spend more, even if it's the only answer, even if they're the only solution.

    Joseph Stiglitz: Yes, the U.S. government, particularly, can borrow short-term zero, long-term 2-3%; and I jokingly say the good news is that we've underinvested for 20 years. So we have a lot of very high return investment projects, and if you think of yourself as the firm where if you could borrow at zero or 1% and you have projects that could deal 20-30%, then it would be very foolish not to undertake those projects, and in five years' time the revenue from those projects would more than pay off the debt. And that's really where the U.S. government is in today. So if we borrow for those investments, in a few years time our fiscal position, our debt GDP ratio will be much lower.

    Amanda Lang: When does the lightbulb go off if so far what we have seen is an unwillingness to pursue any more government stimulus -- when does it become clear that that is the only thing that's going to work?

    Joseph Stiglitz: I think that it's going to take a long time. And the reason I say that is economic systems are very complex, and different people look at the same experience and interpret it in different ways. In the middle ages when they engaged in -- the standard practice for medicine was blood letting, and when the patient was getting weaker and weaker, the response of the doctors (the blood letters) was we need to let/take out more blood, until of course the patient died and they said, "Well, things didn't go quite right this time . . ." ...And there's some story always that you can tell. I'm afraid that the answer, as the economy gets weaker, from those who believe in this austerity religion, will be more austerity.

    Amanda Lang: So where does it leave the American people -- because there is a growing chorus, whether it's Occupy Wall Street or the people that aren't there, the people that are just trying to get by and don't have time to sit in a square in New York -- that there is a feeling that something's gone wrong. This land of opportunity is not offering the opportunities for all anymore. First of all, do you think that's an accurate view?

    Joseph Stiglitz: Oh, very much so. You look at the data and they totally substantiate that view. It`s not just the short run problem of 9.1% unemployment. Youth unemployment is probably twice that. It`s not just the inequality where the top 1% gets now more than a fifth of all the income and has more than 40% of all the wealth. It`s really America-Dream: America is the land of opportunity -- the chance that somebody at the bottom goes to the middle or the top, or somebody in the middle goes to the top, is worse than many of the countries of Old Europe.

    Amanda Lang: So how do you solve that problem, and is, I guess more importantly, is there a willingness to tackle it, because that`s a big one. That`s not a recession-solving problem, that`s much...

    Joseph Stiglitz: No, it`s a long-term problem. First there has to be recognition that this is a problem and too much rhetoric in Washington is based on optimism: We have to keep spirits high . . . And if you`re in that frame you`re not going to be talking about the problems; you`re not going to say ``The End of the American Dream.`` As a politician, what you want to do is lift up people`s spirits. The problem is if you don`t recognize the problem, you`re obviously not going to solve it. And so I think it`s going to be a very difficult process for the political system (and it`s at the core a political problem) to recognize and then deal with the problem.

    Amanda Lang: Because of the way your politicians are financed, campaigns are expensive, especially the higher you go up the ladder the more expensive it is to become a senator, congressman . . . Will we always see politicians loathe to make real change to the biggest industries, to finance, to Pharma, whatever it is that has got them there in the first place?

    Joseph Stiglitz: You put your finger on, I think, one of the core problems in our political system in the United States -- expensive, the expensive campaign, running a campaign . . . They`re talking about a billion dollar campaign for 2012, I mean in a time when we have so many needs, to spend that money . . . But what`s worse is that it eviscerates the political process because the vested interest, whether it`s in finance, oil -- their voices are heard very, very loud.

    Amanda Lang: Isn`t there a simple fix for that?

    Joseph Stiglitz: There is a simple fix -- public finance of campaigns and strong regulations about lobbying and revolving doors. There is an easy fix, but those who make the contributions run the political process and don`t want the change. So we`re in a bind right now because it will be very difficult. In the United States we have one other problem that`s been very serious, which is the Supreme Court, which now has a very loud voice from those who have been connected with that kind of agenda, have ruled that corporations are people. And as people they have the right to make unbridled contributions. Now that case called Citizens United almost says it`s constitutionally allowed to have government bought. Now many people disagree with that interpretation; and there are many things if you had a Congress that was willing could deal with. I mean for instance, you could make the corporation, if they decide to do it as a matter of corporate governance, vote on it and they would never get through.

    Amanda Lang: We`re out of time, but I gotta ask you if you`re optimistic about America`s future. If you`re telling your grand-daughter where to put a $1000 investment -- is it in America or is it in Brazil or India or some other country?

    Joseph Stiglitz: Well, I guess as an economist I say, “Diversify your portfolio.” But it’s clear that Brazil (you mentioned it) is a country that has come to grapple with their inequality, and for the last 20 years has been investing in the poor, in education for all . . . They still have more inequality than the United States, but their trajectory is going in the other direction. They’re trying to deal with their problem. In a way it’s a hopeful sign because their country had growing inequality, high levels of inequality for a very long time, and then, suddenly, and I can’t quite explain it, they got together and said, ‘We can’t go on that direction; our country won’t survive.’ And they’ve gotten together, and you see it – the kind of social cohesion where even the rich say, ‘For our own interest we have to deal with this problem.’ And it’s been transformative.

    Amanda Lang: So, that’s reason for optimism for America?

    Joseph Stiglitz: That’s a reason for optimism for America.

    Amanda Lang: Alright, we’ve got to leave it there. We appreciate your time today.

    Joseph Stiglitz: Thank you.
    Last edited by HERO; 11-22-2011 at 12:10 AM.
    “Must get that Capel street library book renewed or they’ll write to
    Kearney, my garantor. Reincarnation: that’s the word.

    — Some people believe, he said, that we go on living in another body
    after death, that we lived before. They call it reincarnation. That we all lived
    before on the earth thousands of years ago or some other planet. They say we
    have forgotten it. Some say they remember their past lives.

    The sluggish cream wound curdling spirals through her tea. Better remind
    her of the word: metempsychosis. An example would be better.”

    —from Ulysses by James Joyce

  2. #2
    Haikus Beautiful sky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    EII land
    EII INFj
    531 Post(s)
    6 Thread(s)



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    162 Post(s)
    1 Thread(s)


    Quote Originally Posted by Maritsa33 View Post
    Haha! LSE.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    527 Post(s)
    1 Thread(s)



    such celtic face
    Types examples: video bloggers, actors

  5. #5
    force my hand's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    6 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)


    I can see LSE or Te-SLI.

    Has an interesting rapport with Andrew Cohen who is probably INTp.
    SLI/ISTp -- Te subtype

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    30 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)


    I like her. She's the only reason I ever choose to watch The Lang and O'Leary Exchange on occasion. Yet when she argues with Kevin O'Leary, it always seems to be from an ethical standpoint for her, some ethical or empathetic perspective/argument. At least that's the way I see it. [Or maybe it's just her being Delta.] And she does of course seem to be more Fi than Fe to me, and I find her to be Static, although I could be wrong.

  7. #7
    Glorious Member mu4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    578 Post(s)
    3 Thread(s)


    Not sure, but she's pretty cute.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    30 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)


    LSE-Si (Normalizing subtype) [LSE-EII]; or ESI/EII?; or some XSXj type

    - from The Power of Why by Amanda Lang; pp. 203-209 [CHAPTER TEN—Talk to Strangers

    (DON’T ASSUME OTHERS THINK THE WAY YOU DO)]: Many of us don’t even really

    know how we think or the ways in which our thinking differs from others. We may compare

    ourselves to other people in terms of intelligence or aptitude or skill, without even recognizing

    that we have entirely different ways of thinking. Style of thinking may, in fact, be one of the last

    bastions of prejudice. We accept and even encourage diversity in so many other ways, but not

    this one.

    Certainly throughout school there’s not a lot of emphasis on letting people process

    information in the way that feels most comfortable to them. The one-question, one answer

    paradigm doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for flexibility in style. This may be why most kids

    seem to feel most truly alive outside school, participating in extracurricular activities that not

    only allow for recognition of individual differences but also insist on it. The high school soccer

    coach doesn’t start with a view that every player is just as good in goal. Team members are

    assessed based on their individual qualities and then slotted in where they fit best. Once

    identified, unique strengths are emphasized and developed.

    Growing up, my own extracurricular was, to my parents’ chagrin, horseback riding. They

    found a way to support it financially (though I was never in the league of riders with first class

    horses, instead riding other people’s, it was still an expensive pursuit, and I’m sure they thanked

    their lucky stars that only one of their seven kids was interested). Horseback riding is all about

    thinking processes—yours and those of the somewhat dim-witted but powerful animal you hope

    to control. You need to understand how a particular horse thinks if you have any hope of getting

    it to do what you want, and you need to be fairly methodical about how you make commands

    and when. I rode dressage, a somewhat technical form of riding where the entire point is to get

    responses from your horse using minimal signals; ideally, an observer can’t even perceive the

    signals. You can’t do it well unless you understand and reach the horse on another level, which is

    what I loved about it. You’re forced to bend your mind to see the world the way a horse does,

    and that changes the way you think, too.

    For whatever reason, it occurs to us less frequently that we should be trying to do the

    same thing with people. Yes, we understand that other people have different histories, agendas,

    points of view and temperaments, but often we just don’t recognize or account for the fact that

    their brains process information differently than ours do, too. I’m not talking about intelligence

    but literally about the way we think, which is as individual as we are (and, as we’ll see in a

    minute, this has some pretty important implications for how we interact with others).

    How do I know this with complete certainty? Because I am an identical twin. Literally

    clones, identical twins are freaks of nature. Unlike fraternal twins, whereby two eggs happen to

    be in the right place at the right time and are both fertilized, identical twins, for reasons that are

    still mysterious, started as one fertilized egg, then split in two. So my sister Adrian and I started

    out, genetically, exactly the same.

    Yet even in the womb our development diverged. By the time we were born, I was a full

    pound heavier . . . As we grew up, other differences emerged. She was a thinker; I was an

    emoter. She was socially gifted; I was shy, bordering on awkward. And so on. We were pretty

    much equally smart (depending on the subject). Our Grade 10 computer science teacher even

    made us retake the final exam because she couldn’t figure out how we’d managed to score

    identically even though we’d been sitting across the gym from each other. But do we think alike?

    No way. We process things very differently, even if in the end we arrive at the same conclusion.

    From the time we were little kids, the way we saw the world and interpreted information was just

    not the same.

    One of the first questions I had when I started to think about curiosity and innovation was

    why some people are innovative and open to change, and others are not. I wondered if, maybe,

    some people just aren’t capable of innovation. All the experts told me that isn’t the case:

    everyone can innovate, we just do it in different ways. For some people, innovation involves

    concocting a new kind of martini. For others, it involves coming up with a new app. We’re all

    capable of it to some degree, but we do it differently, in large part because our brains don’t work

    the same.

    Few people understand this better than Robert Rosenfeld, co-author of The Invisible

    He is frequently called on to help companies become more innovative. In his work

    with clients over the years he has relied on various personality inventories such as the Myers-

    Briggs. But he was frustrated by them because they didn’t reveal “the complete story or even the

    essence of the problem” when it came to innovation. Existing tests didn’t focus tightly on the

    connection between style of thinking and openness to innovation, nor did they have the scope to

    measure the full spectrum of ways that people think about and approach problems. So he created

    his own test: the Innovation Strengths Preference Indicator (ISPI).

    The ISPI is one of the only tests that looks at both your risk profile and your approach to

    implementing change, which is more about outcomes. The test gauges ideation (idea generation),

    risk taking, and process (how you go about implementation), and ranks you in those three

    domains: you can be an extreme builder, mid-builder or builder, or an extreme pioneer, mid-

    pioneer or pioneer. Builder types like to work with what’s already there and adapt it

    incrementally to make it better, whereas pioneers prefer to forge something new and untested.

    The ISPI also measures how you relate to others, whether you need to be in control, the extent to

    which you initiate relationships and your networking style. Finally, it looks at aspects of your

    personality, such as passion and energy. Because there are in total twelve categories (most

    personality tests cover three or four) and you have an individual score in each, there are 38

    million unique variations of the ISPI.

    I think the trick with tests like this is to do them fast so you’re sure to write down your

    first, instinctive response rather than the one you think sounds right or better. I took the ISPI—

    basically a series of questions about how you approach problems and other people—in about

    fifteen minutes one cloudy winter afternoon, sitting at my desk at the CBC. Afterward,

    Rosenfeld’s colleague Andrew Harrison walked me through the results. Unlike personality tests

    that peg you as a definitive type, the ISPI tells you what type you are in all three domains related

    to problem solving and innovation. It reinforced some things I already knew to be true about

    myself but also helped me understand something important about how I approach problems. I

    like new ideas, but I want to use them in practical ways. I’ve always thought of myself as very

    curious and open to change, but the truth is, I’m just more comfortable seeking to improve what

    already exists.

    According to the ISPI, I am a mid-builder when it comes to ideation, a pioneer when it

    comes to risk taking and a mid-pioneer when it comes to process, meaning I’m capable of some

    flexibility in terms of how things are implemented. I like to dive right in to try to fix things, so

    I’m a first responder in a crisis, but I may not have a lot of original ideas about how to handle it

    (and I am more likely to succumb to the allure of old assumptions). This is information I could

    really have used back in university because it explains perfectly why I could never be an

    innovative architect—and also why journalism, where I’m reporting on and interpreting events

    and theories, is such a good fit for me. I don’t have to come up with breathtaking new ideas all

    the time, but I do need to be willing to go out on a limb and also need to be flexible about how I

    find material and weave it together. I can be innovative, just in a way different from how I hoped

    and dreamed when I was nine years old.

    It’s pretty obvious that this kind of self-knowledge isn’t helpful just professionally. It can

    also be helpful when it comes to trying to innovate and solve problems in your personal life.

    Even if you don’t know where a colleague or friend places on the ISPI, you know there is a

    place, and it’s probably not the same as yours. Acknowledging that can really change how you

    perceive others because now you have a new way to look at their behaviour when you’re facing a

    problem or having a conflict of some sort. Innovation is required to fix the issue and move on. If

    someone is frustrating you, perhaps it’s not because she’s deliberately trying to thwart you—it

    isn’t about you at all. Maybe she is just proceeding in a certain way that accords with her place

    on the ISPI spectrum. If your own is far away—she’s an extreme pioneer but you’re a mid-

    builder, say, so her desire to challenge the status quo bumps up against your tendency to focus on

    improving what already exists—well, no wonder there’s conflict.

    It’s liberating, soothing even, to understand that friction isn’t necessarily a verdict on

    your personality. Just as you have no real idea what someone else’s headache feels like, you

    really have no clue how his or her brain processes information. In almost the same way that

    emotional maturity involves growing out of childhood egotism, intellectual maturity might

    involve realizing that ours is not the only way of thinking. Recognizing that we all approach

    problems differently can help you to be more patient and empathetic, and will probably help

    everyone reach a solution faster. And it also helps to recognize the incredible value of being

    exposed to different ways of thinking, whether they were acquired living abroad or living right

    next door.

    For me, it’s been humbling yet freeing to recognize with real clarity that my way isn’t

    necessarily the right one. It’s just my way.

    - pp. 29-32 [CHAPTER ONE—What Happens to Curiosity? (THE QUESTION OF

    CULTURE)]: In Canada, parenting and schooling aren’t the only forces that can dampen down

    curiosity. There may also be cultural barriers to asking questions. With our fortress mentality and

    stiff-upper-lip British heritage, we may have unintentionally created a society that in subtle ways

    encourages us to resist the whole notion of challenging tradition. Of course, asking a question is

    an inherent challenge to the status quo, but it doesn’t have to be viewed as pushy and impolite, or

    as a threat. It can also be seen as an invitation: “Let’s kick this idea around a little, have a

    dialogue, see how we can make things even better.”

    But I think Canadians tend to hear certain types of questions, particularly ones that don’t

    involve the weather or a hockey game, as rude or inappropriate. I remember being slightly taken

    aback, when I moved to New York to work for the Financial Post and later CNN, by how

    unabashed Americans were about asking personal questions. It was not uncommon to be quizzed

    on everything from relationship status to career prospects within the first five minutes of meeting

    someone. There are nosy Canadians, to be sure, but there is a particular quality to American

    curiosity, a lack of apology for it, that you see much less often here, and it took a while to get

    used to it.

    I was reminded of this recently when I spoke to a group of executives about innovation

    and met three American-born CEOs who now run Canadian subsidiaries of large corporations.

    All three are in the consumer goods space, and all had war stories about the culture shock they

    experienced when they first began managing Canadian employees.

    Politeness, they agreed, was a real barrier to problem solving in their Canadian offices, in

    a way it hadn’t been when they worked in the United States. “Problems are gold!” said a CEO,

    whom I’ll call George, in a gravelly, Midwestern accent. “Making them visible should be a good

    thing. Instead there is a fear of hurting feelings, or seeming rude or abrupt.” A leader I’ll call

    Mike, also a Midwesterner, agreed. A reluctance to address problems head-on was also a concern

    at his company. He told us about a mid-level sales executive who’d run a moderately successful

    evergreen client file for years and was expecting to be rewarded one day with a promotion to

    vice-president. But Mike could see that she was someone who thrived on reliability and

    predictability and keeping things the same—simply not innovative enough to be a VP, and when

    he told her that, as gently as he could, she burst into tears. She had never asked for, nor had

    anyone ever volunteered, direct feedback on her prospects, much less indicated that the status

    quo was something she should be trying to change.

    “Tom,” another ex-pat CEO, nodded in recognition, adding, “Canadians tend to dance

    around these kinds of conversations.” He coaches his son’s basketball team and said he’s

    observed a real difference here when a kid has a free throw. In the United States, he explained,

    supporters of the other team go crazy in that situation, making as much noise as possible to try to

    throw the player off and upset the throw, “but, in Canada, the whole crowd goes completely

    silent so the player can concentrate.”

    He’s all for politeness and courtesy, he continued, but it does tend to make it more

    difficult to have direct conversations and to see questions as healthy challenges rather than

    personal attacks. “At my first meeting here, a strategic planning review, thirty people showed up

    to the boardroom,” Tom said. “There should have been something like twelve. But nobody

    wanted to say to anyone else, ‘Why are you coming to the meeting?’” And once there,

    people fell over themselves complimenting each other’s ideas. “It was not useful at all. We

    needed them to challenge each other.”

    Viewing challenges as breaches of etiquette translates, all three agreed, into a “good, not

    great” mentality in the business world. All three saw fear of conflict and fear of making mistakes

    as serious stumbling blocks for their Canadian employees, and interestingly, all three noted that

    new Canadians seem much more likely to be willing to question conventional wisdom.

    My purpose is not to say that Americans are better than Canadians—if I believed that, I’d

    still be living in the United States—or that we should ape their ways. My purpose is to point out

    that cultural factors may act as dampers on our natural curiosity in ways that we should be aware

    of, so we can work to counteract them—not in order to become more like Americans, but to

    become more successful Canadians. Curiosity doesn’t just help us evolve as individuals but as a

    society, because it powers the kind of innovative thinking that results in new ideas, new ways of

    doing things and new products.

    Innovation drives productivity, which to a large degree determines our standard of living

    at home and our competitiveness abroad. And Canadians’ productivity has been tanking since the

    early 1970s. Today, Americans, who’ve always been more productive, have pulled way ahead of

    us. In the United States, worker output—measured as the value of the goods or services produced

    per hour by that worker—is $44. In Canada, it’s only $35, which makes us sixteenth among the

    seventeen countries the Conference Board of Canada compared in a recent study. That’s bad

    news for business—corporate profits could be 40 percent higher if we could match U.S.

    productivity rates. And it’s bad news for government. If we closed the productivity gap, revenue

    to our government would increase by $66 billion a year, without raising taxes a dime. Goodbye

    deficits! And it’s really bad news for you and me, because if we could match U.S. productivity

    rates, we’d have more in our wallets. A lot more.

    So there are some very good practical reasons to encourage curiosity: it drives

    innovation, which in turn powers productivity. If there’s something that’s holding us back,

    culturally, we’d better try to figure out what it is and correct it. Fast.

    - pp. 11-14: We are born curious. Thank goodness. If babies didn’t have an innate drive to figure

    out how the world works, they wouldn’t learn very much. Curiosity keeps them interested, alert,

    observant and focused. Later in life we learn to look like we’re paying attention, out of

    politeness, or we pay attention merely to pass the test or because we suspect the information may

    be helpful in the future. But babies and toddlers? They haven’t learned to fake it. If they’re not

    interested, they simply zone out or cry or experiment with something they are curious about, like

    the physics of flinging a bowl of applesauce across the room, or finding out what’s in that

    cupboard with the child lock.

    But very early on, and often unwittingly, we begin to train curiosity out of kids. Think of

    the messaging: curiosity killed the cat, led Little Red Riding Hood off the straight and narrow

    path and didn’t work out so well for Pandora, either. Think of the warnings about talking to

    strangers. Think about Eve, for goodness sake, who basically got booted out of the Garden of

    Eden because she wondered what apples taste like. When they are still very little, children begin

    to receive contradictory messages about curiosity. Asking whether c-a-t spells cat is good.

    Asking “Why is that guy so fat?” is impolite. Asking your great-aunt whether she’d like another

    biscuit is nice. Being curious about and open to strangers is dangerous. Asking whether it’s all

    right to go in the pool is sensible. Challenging authority and tradition is disrespectful.

    Admonitions about the dangers of curiosity usually kick in at about the same time that

    children start actively searching for causal explanations, seeking information that can help them

    predict and interpret events and figure out the world. Or put another way, one that’s familiar to

    anyone who has spent any time at all with a toddler: they ask questions. A lot of questions—

    dozens per preschooler per hour, according to researchers. By the age of three, quite a few of

    these questions start with the word why. For adults, this can quickly get irritating,

    especially when your best explanations just elicit yet another why. Many adults view a

    never-ending stream of questions as an attention-seeking gambit and brush off kids’ questions or

    ignore them entirely or bark, “Because I said so, that’s why!” Researchers report that almost 40

    percent of the time, either adults simply don’t respond to young children’s questions or their

    response is some variation of “Get lost.” (You might wonder why so many adults respond this

    way; maybe it’s because it’s how they remember being treated as children.)

    But according to a recent study that closely tracked what children do after asking

    questions, they are not seeking attention. Information really is what they’re after. “When

    preschool children ask ‘why?’ questions, they are not merely trying to prolong the conversation

    (as previously suspected by many parents and researchers alike). Upon receiving an explanation,

    children often end their questioning and react with satisfaction,” the researchers reported. It’s

    when kids don’t get the explanatory information they’re seeking that the endless whys start.

    The reason: a thirst for knowledge, not an uncanny talent for annoying grown-ups.

    However, if questions don’t get answered or are actually rebuffed, many kids simply

    conclude that there’s no point in asking. That’s exactly what we don’t want them to do, for a

    number of reasons. For starters, highly curious kids learn more; the more they find out, the more

    they realize they don’t know and the deeper they dig for information, whether the topic they’re

    interested in is computers or rap or chemistry. Curiosity is, therefore, strongly correlated with

    intelligence. For instance, one longitudinal study of 1,795 kids measured intelligence and

    curiosity when they were three years old, and then again eight years later. Researchers found that

    kids who had been equally intelligent at age three were, at eleven, no longer equal. The ones

    who’d been more curious at three were now also more intelligent, which isn’t terribly surprising

    when you consider how curiosity drives the acquisition of knowledge. The more interested and

    alert and engaged you are, the more you’re likely to learn and retain. In fact, highly curious kids

    scored a full twelve points higher on IQ tests than less curious kids did.

    Furthermore, curiosity is intrinsically rewarding. If you’ve ever watched little kids

    absorbed in trying to figure out how to play a new game or solve a puzzle, you know what I

    mean. The desire to acquire more IQ points isn’t what motivates them. What’s driving them is

    more self-interested: pleasure. It feels good to be interested, to be driven to explore and find out

    new things. Sometimes it feels risky or even aggravating not knowing what the answer is or what

    will happen next. But always there’s a sense of mental alertness. And that sure feels better than

    being bored and disengaged.

    Curious kids learn how to learn, and how to enjoy it—and that, more than any

    specific body of knowledge, is what they will need to have in the future. The world is changing

    so rapidly that by the time a student graduates from university, everything he or she learned may

    already be headed toward obsolescence. The main thing that student needs to know is not

    what to think but how to think in order to face new challenges and solve new


    “In the industrial economy, the person who wins is the expert,” explains Claude Legrand,

    co-author of Innovative Intelligence. “In the knowledge economy, the person who wins is the one

    who has the process to solve complex problems.” That’s because, in the knowledge economy,

    the goalposts are shifting constantly. What’s hot today may be old news in six months.

    Developing the processes to cope with the challenges this will pose in terms of our jobs, Legrand

    believes, is all about being receptive to change, and possessing the mental and emotional

    flexibility and desire to continue learning—having a curious mentality, in other words, rather

    than an expert mentality.

    - pp. 16-21 (THE MYTH OF EXPERTISE): . . . . [Steve Gass’s] invention seemed like a

    slamdunk, and the prototype won innovation awards and, in 2002, made the 100 Best New

    Innovations list in Popular Science magazine. It’s easy to see why: standard table saws are

    incredibly dangerous. Every single day, they cause eleven amputations and eleven fractures in

    the United States alone. All told, there are 67,300 “medically-treated blade contact injuries

    annually,” according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The total market for

    table saws is about $200 million, but the annual cost to the U.S. economy of the injuries they

    cause is ten times that—the safety commission estimates it’s $2.36 billion.

    But just as automakers fought the installation of airbags, so did the power tool industry

    fight—and continues to fight—SawStop. Tool manufacturers have never had to care about

    fingers, but about profit margins. Licensing Gass’s technology would cost them money, but that

    would be peanuts compared to the capital costs they’d incur overhauling their existing

    production lines and products. And they’d have to do it. If an injury mitigation system crept into

    the mainstream market, it would be impossible to manufacture a table saw without it because of

    the liability issues. Speaking of which, if a toolmaker marketed a “safe” saw, who would be

    liable in the event of an accident? So far, consumers had accepted that liability as 100 percent

    theirs—would SawStop shift that balance? Toolmakers didn’t want to find out. No thanks, they

    told Gass. Not only that, they seemed determined to undermine SawStop, criticizing its


    And so it was that Gass and the two other patent lawyers who’d become his business

    partners asked themselves a crucial question: Should they try to get their old jobs back, or learn

    how to manufacture SawStops? They’d never run a business or manufactured a thing in their

    lives, and they’d need to raise capital. The only certainty was that there would be some very lean

    years. But the prospect of a steep learning curve was energizing; all three liked figuring out how

    to do new things, and by 2004, they had.

    “We started selling saws in November, and then in March 2005 I got a call from a

    customer,” Gass remembers. “He said, ‘Steve, we had a guy run his hand into his saw today.’

    I’m just waiting, my stomach dropped, and then he said, ‘Worked just like you said! He’s got a

    little nick.’ It was a huge relief. Two weeks later we got the next call. Now I think we probably

    get a finger-save a day.”

    Today, the SawStop isn’t just safer than standard saws. “How can we make this better?”

    is the constant refrain that has driven incremental improvements and the development of new

    features, such as a better fence to hold back wood chips and particles. Indeed, the entire spirit of

    the company revolves around challenging the status quo—and each other. “How do you know?”

    is another constant refrain. Gass says, “We had a guy come out to visit, a former client looking to

    invest in the company, and as he was leaving he said, ‘Gosh, is everything okay here? You guys

    seem to be going at each other.’ I was flabbergasted. From our perspective, questioning and

    challenging is just normal, there’s nothing heated about it.”

    Meanwhile, SawStop has asked the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to rule

    on whether injury mitigation systems should be mandatory for table saws—a gamble, as

    realistically the major manufacturers may just wind up ripping off SawStop’s technology and

    launching an endless patent fight. But, despite the ongoing uncertainty—and the fact that his

    bank balance is much lower than it would be had he remained in law—Steve Gass has no regrets.

    “This is my dream job,” he says, “because I get to work on interesting technology and it’s

    challenging, and I’m proud that we prevent mutilations and injuries.”

    He didn’t find his dream job because he was an expert. He got where he is because he’s

    naturally curious, and that makes learning new things and taking on new challenges both

    enjoyable and fulfilling . . . .

    The knowledge economy needs people like Steve Gass, people for whom the same old

    same old isn’t good enough, people who like to tinker with things in the hope of coming up with

    something better.


    There’s been a lot of hand-wringing over the past forty years about the need for schools

    to promote creativity and original thinking, but there hasn’t been widespread recognition that

    creativity is an outcome. It’s triggered by curiosity, and in my view, that’s what schools should

    be promoting first and foremost. Let’s face it: passive, incurious kids are not creative. They’re

    not churning out imaginative stories or figuring out new stuff in the chemistry lab or fooling

    around with a computer program to try to make it do something different. Kids who aren’t very

    curious are couch potatoes, intellectually speaking. The reality is that before anyone can do

    anything innovative or original, there’s got to be a sense of wonder or at least a spark of interest,

    and a whole bunch of questions.

    But while schools are terrific at disseminating information, most of them are quite a bit

    less terrific at promoting curiosity. In many schools, there is, as one researcher aptly put it, “a

    pedagogy of ‘intellectual hide-and-seek’ in which teachers hold all the correct answers and

    students aim to seek out, memorize, and parrot back those answers.” Students learn to suppress

    their own insights and ideas and, instead, try to figure out what the teacher wants to hear. The

    system is set up so that kids will converge on the one right answer, rather than thinking

    divergently—coming up with several novel and unexpected possibilities—and asking questions

    of their own. According to the researcher, “Such practices not only underestimate the importance

    of imaginative thinking, but deaden the personal value of the information being taught to


    In an educational system in which productivity is measured by hours logged per task,

    number of worksheets completed and scores on standardized tests, it doesn’t make a whole lot of

    sense to prompt kids to ask more questions unless the questions are about what’s going to be on

    the test. In many classrooms, stopping to encourage and mull over questions that aren’t

    procedural or directly related to the material at hand is viewed as wasting time. It’s no big

    surprise then that most kids come to school bursting with questions, but exit, a dozen or so years

    later, asking very few. Curiosity declines from one grade to the next, and the reason isn’t that

    kids’ thirst for knowledge has been satiated and they now know everything they want or need to


    The reason is that, by and large, the education system (aided and abetted by many parents

    and governments) doesn’t celebrate, much less tap into, children’s hunger to explore, inquire and

    discover. The system simply isn’t set up to do that. Schools were designed at the turn of the

    nineteenth century to meet the needs of a completely different economy, which required workers

    who’d been equipped with a reliable, standardized package of knowledge.

    Today, we need workers who are excited about learning and know how to adapt to

    rapidly changing circumstances—just think of all the changes the Internet has wrought in so

    many different industries over the past five years—and come up with new ways to do things. We

    need workers who question rules of thumb and conventional wisdom, and ask, as they do at

    SawStop, “How do you know?”

    Currently, however, most schools don’t reinforce or reward divergent thinking. How can

    they, given their mandate? So instead of learning how to learn, many kids are learning how to be

    good at going to school. The straight-A student is, in virtually every educational setting, the one

    who has figured out what the teacher wants and how to deliver it.

    My point is not that kids shouldn’t be learning facts and shouldn’t be memorizing, say,

    the letters of the alphabet or doing addition and subtraction drills. My point is that, for many

    kids, this is the only kind of learning that’s going on at school. Their natural curiosity—the kind

    that keeps them excited about finding out more—gets damped down. The kids at the back of the

    class, the ones who challenge authority or check out altogether, may wind up scrounging for

    change on the street corner. But they may also be the ones who go on to start a software

    company or come up with a new way to treat diabetes. Whether or not schools reward “Why?”

    the world certainly does.

    - pp. 22-24 (QUESTION THE UNQUESTIONABLE): Study participant Tata Group

    chairman Ratan Tata summed up the innovative mindset this way: “Question the


    The results of the study were published in The Innovator’s DNA, co-authored by

    legendary innovation guru Clayton Christensen, Jeffrey Dyer and Hal Gregersen, who point out

    that managers tend to ask how questions, like, How are we going to speed up production?

    Innovative entrepreneurs, on the other hand, ask Why? and Why not? They are the kids at the

    back of the class, all grown up: skeptical, unimpressed with conventional wisdom and pretty sure

    there’s a better way. Michael Dell, for example, told the authors that “his idea for founding Dell

    Computer sprang from his asking why a computer cost five times as much as the sum of its parts.

    ‘I would take computers apart . . . and would observe that $600 worth of parts were sold for

    $3,000.’ In chewing over the question, he hit on his revolutionary business model.”

    This wasn’t a particularly brilliant question. It was actually pretty basic. But asking basic

    questions forces people back to the heart of the matter, to re-examine and justify practices and

    beliefs that have become so ingrained they’re almost invisible. And the payoff that comes from

    questioning assumptions and rules of thumb can be huge. “In business, the big prizes are found

    when you can ask a question that challenges the corporate orthodoxy,” Andrew Cosslett, the

    CEO of the InterContinental Hotels Group, told the New York Times. “In every business I’ve

    worked in, there’s been a lot of cost and value locked up in things that are deemed to be ‘the way

    we do things around here.’ So you have to talk to people and ask them, ‘Why do you do that?’”

    In other words, you have to ask the kind of questions a three-year-old would ask, the

    kinds of questions that schools should be encouraging kids of all ages to ask. But as the

    educational system is currently constructed, the right answer, not the cheeky question, gets the

    gold star—and the faster you get that answer, the better. Pause en route to consider many

    different possibilities, and everyone else will whip right past you and win the race. Now, I’m all

    for right answers. I would not be pleased if my son came home with a gold star because he’d

    provided original but incorrect answers on a spelling quiz.

    However, one unintended by-product of an educational system that almost exclusively

    rewards coming up with the right answer is children who, understandably, learn to fear giving

    the wrong one. Students who care about marks rush to find the answer and get the gold star, and

    the more gold stars they get, the more likely they are to rely on this winning formula and the

    more afraid they may become of making mistakes.

    Yet there isn’t a story of innovation or progress that doesn’t involve multiple false starts

    and flubs. Curiosity requires the courage to risk being wrong—which, in the end, doesn’t require

    all that much courage if you don’t view being wrong as catastrophic. As British educator Ken

    Robinson put it in his now legendary talk as part of a Technology, Entertainment, Design—or

    TED—conference in June 2006, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong you will never come up

    with anything original. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are

    the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative


    Robinson, who chaired a major British government report on creativity, education and the

    economy, has statistical backup. A study of 1,600 children shows that divergent and nonlinear

    capabilities—key components of innovative thinking—drop sharply once children enter the

    school system. In this study, 98 percent of the three- to five-year olds could think in divergent

    ways. By the time they were eight to ten years old, only 32 percent of them could think

    divergently. By the time they were teenagers, the percentage had dropped to 10 percent.

    Robinson concluded, based on this and other research, that the culprit is the educational system.

    - pp. 26-29 (THE CURIOUS THING ABOUT HIGHER LEARNING): Oh well, you may be

    thinking. It’s too bad about elementary and high schools, but everything changes in university.

    That’s where people are forced to stretch intellectually, so if their curiosity has been stunted, the

    damage can be undone.

    But apparently, matters are even worse at institutions of higher learning. My source of

    this information? Celebrated professors at those same institutions. “The traditional way of

    thinking about learning at a university is that there’s somebody who’s a teacher who actually has

    some amount of knowledge, and their job is figuring out a way of communicating that

    knowledge to someone else,” Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of

    California, Berkeley, told Maclean’s. “That’s literally a medieval model, it comes from the

    days when there weren’t a lot of printed books around, so someone read the book and explained

    it to everybody else. That’s our model for what university education, and for that matter high

    school education, ought to be like. It’s not a model that anybody’s ever found any independent

    evidence for . . . I don’t think there’s any scientist who thinks the way we typically do university

    courses, where we have 300 people in a lecture hall and someone standing at the front and talking to

    them, has anything to do with the best methods for getting people to learn.”

    Gopnik went on to point out that because of the “insane” competition to get into top

    universities like McGill and Harvard, by the time students finally arrive, they’ve been trained to

    focus on grades rather than on taking intellectual risks or asking questions. The important thing

    is getting an A, not having an original thought. “We’re selecting a group that has gone through

    so much pressure to get to university that they don’t have that wide-ranging curiosity that’s a

    really important part of having an intellectual life,” she said.

    . . . . the prevailing attitude among students is that they are buying a degree, a ticket to the

    workforce, not an education.

    This attitude, combined with the systemic emphasis on shut-up-and-listen-to-me lectures

    rather than experiential learning, won’t undo any earlier damage caused by hide-and-seek

    pedagogy. By university, many students have learned that questions just aren’t that important.

    What really matters are marks, and you get good ones only if you know the right answer.

    - pp. 41-45 [CHAPTER TWO—Forget What You Think You Know (WIPING THE

    SLATE CLEAN)]: Once participants knew that everything was off the record, Paivin recalls, “It

    was unbelievable what they started confessing. Guys don’t talk about this kind of stuff, about

    themselves.” In one focus group, a new father with a six-week-old at home kicked off the session

    by waxing eloquent about the joys of parenthood: “I’ve got this new baby, and it’s so much fun!”

    But as the group’s conversation continued, the truth came out. “I’m a musician, and I haven’t

    really played in the last couple of months since the baby’s been here. God, I miss playing my


    On the other side of the glass, some of the Canadian Tire women were affronted.

    Meerkamper remembers female colleagues harrumphing, “You think it rocked your world to

    have a baby?! Well, it rocks our world, too!” Meerkamper and Paivin had a different take: this is

    what it sounds like when a guy is being honest about the baby blues, his malaise and discomfort

    with the radical shift in his life, how much he misses hanging with his buddies.

    The empty nesters in the focus groups struck a more wistful and reflective note. Some

    had retired and were living through an unsettling role reversal. Suddenly, they were taking on

    more domestic responsibilities, whiling away the hours until their wives got home from work.

    These men talked about wanting to be more involved with their grandchildren; they really hadn’t

    been there for their own kids, and were now thinking about what kind of legacy they were


    The Project Darwin team took notes but did not yet try to categorize anything. They

    didn’t want to leap to conclusions or go into solution mode. They were still trying to “go

    deeper,” as Feaver put it to the CEO of Canadian Tire, to get to the why of the matter. So they

    gathered more information by having men blog online while, separately, their wives and kids

    also blogged, though neither group could see what the other was writing; this gave the team

    different perspectives on the same family. They also conducted what are called “shop-alongs”:

    shadowing men in stores and scribbling notes on their habits, preferences and patterns.

    And in several cities across Canada, the team hired ethnographers—experts trained to

    observe and interpret the systems of meaning that guide the life of a cultural group—to visit men

    in their homes in order to study how they lived and interacted with their families. Project Darwin

    team members tagged along for some of these visits, and while the families being studied knew

    they were researchers, they didn’t know the purpose or even that it was for Canadian Tire. The

    idea was to be flies on the wall for six hours, just watch people do what they would normally do

    on a Saturday—without interacting with them or changing their routines—and write everything

    down. This is how Meerkamper came to find herself, one weekend, observing a couple puttering

    around the house and doing chores. It was a second marriage for both, and she was struck by

    how seamlessly the couple performed their tasks, saying little as they cleaned but moving around

    each other in what seemed to be a kind of choreographed dance. “She did her thing, he did his,

    they would sometimes meet in the hallway and kind of update each other. It was all really civil,”

    Meerkamper said. “Wow, this is beautiful symmetry, they just seem to have a flow here,” she

    marvelled. Trailing after them as they did their grocery shopping, it was the same story: no need

    for lengthy discussions, the wife just headed off to one aisle while the man hit the produce

    section. They seemed completely in sync.

    Until the end of the session, when Meerkamper and the ethnographer split the couple up

    to talk about what they’d seen, and the wife immediately began listing all the mistakes her

    husband had made that day. “Did you see how he picked those vegetables? He didn’t even look

    at them! He was too busy talking to someone. And did you see how he washed that bowl? I’m

    going to have to go back and do it properly.” She had a long catalogue of his crimes, though

    she’d failed to point any of them out at the time they occurred. Remembering this, Meerkamper

    laughs, but it’s a rueful laugh. “The one big learning from this whole study is that women are

    hard on their men. They really are,” she says. When she and Paivin present the team’s findings

    internally or externally, they usually start off by saying that every woman who’s touched Project

    Darwin vows she is going to treat the man in her life better.

    Another breakthrough finding: men are reluctant to speak ill of or even acknowledge

    anything negative about their spouses. Cedric Paivin remembers tagging along with a French-

    speaking ethnographer in suburban Montreal, who took him to the home of a lovely young

    family. The woman made coffee while their baby toddled about, and the man crowed, “I’ve got

    the perfect wife! I married my high school sweetheart, I’ve got a beautiful healthy baby boy, I’m

    paying down my mortgage, I’ve got a stable job, I love the guys I work with.” Sensing this

    picture was a little too rosy, the ethnographer asked to speak to the husband privately in the

    backyard, where he promptly broke down. “I have to come clean,” he wept. “I was pressured to

    marry my high school girlfriend, she’s not as good as I told you she was and I’m not in love with

    her. I was pressured into having kids.”

    That episode raised more questions for the team: Are men different on the surface than

    they are inside? Do they present a face to the world that doesn’t match their internal feelings?

    And if so, how on earth can we figure out what they’re really feeling?

    - pp. 46-51: Someone . . . reviewed television commercials, prompted by research indicating that

    men didn’t think advertisers “got” them, and prepared a reel of representative ads for the group.

    “It wasn’t pretty,” Meerkamper says. “Men are portrayed as metrosexuals or as retrosexuals, the

    old-school tough guy who’s interested in beer and women and sports and that’s it. And the other

    type of guy was just a doofus, basically, who’s oblivious to how badly he’s performing. When

    you see these ads back to back, you’re like, ‘My goodness!’”

    Which naturally led to more questions: How do men feel about being portrayed as

    cavemen or doofuses? Is this how they see themselves? Or is it such a turnoff that they’ll

    abandon a brand?

    Senior executives at Canadian Tire might have thought these missions were ridiculous,

    and Meerkamper concedes that in isolation they were. However, they provided “a new spark, a

    new way of looking at all that data. It just makes you think about things a little differently.”

    Thinking divergently, not trying to converge on the one right answer, was the whole point of

    Project Darwin. So no one objected when Matt Feaver did an immersion with an animal trainer

    who works with sea lions, to find out how the males and females differ (males are showboats,

    willing to try a trick first, but also protective, entering the water before the females, scanning for

    predators). Someone else observed coed baseball leagues as well as male-only ones, and noted

    that the players in the single-sex teams wore full-on uniforms, used more technical language and

    took the game much more seriously, never calling out “Nice try” or consoling each other, as was

    standard practice in the coed leagues. One woman interviewed a minister to find out what guys

    confided, and the minister said, “Men only come to me when they’re in crisis, whereas women

    come and say, ‘I’m having a bad day.’ If a guy comes to talk to me, he’s in bad shape and wants

    to talk about one of two things: ‘Is this all there is?’ or ‘I’m not having fun anymore.’”

    So now there were new questions: What do men do for fun? How important is fun?

    Variations of those questions and many of the others raised by the team’s research wound

    up on the in-depth survey administered to 1,500 men and 500 women, which comprised the

    quantitative part of the research. (Spoiler alert: fun turns out to be almost like oxygen for men,

    many of whom want to have more of it at home, with their families—but if they can’t, they will

    start looking for ways to escape.)

    The survey was painstakingly crafted because another thing the team had learned was

    that wording is extremely important if you want to get men to talk about their feelings. They’d

    read about a survey of newly divorced people, which asked how they were coping. The women

    were devastated, but among the men, “Great!” was a standard response, which confirmed the

    stereotype that men don’t have feelings and are, well, jerks. But then the survey was redone, and

    this time instead of asking how men were coping, it asked how they were dealing with divorce,

    and suddenly the floodgates opened, with men responding, “Oh, it’s really hard.” The takeaway:

    there are some words that men don’t relate to—and thus there were many, many debates about

    word choices on the Canadian Tire quantitative survey, which was designed to unearth the

    thoughts men don’t eagerly volunteer.

    When the survey results were tabulated, analyzed and presented to the team, it was “like

    drinking from a firehose,” Meerkamper recalls. Starting with a seemingly simple, “childish”

    question—“What does it mean to be a man?”—and continuing to ask it over and over, in a

    variety of ways, wound up yielding “so much stuff, it was almost paralyzing.” All the fieldwork

    and the workshops and missions helped the core team interpret some findings that might

    otherwise have been puzzling. For instance, though more than half the wives said they nagged

    their husbands, only about one-fifth of men admitted that they were nagged—a gap that made

    sense to the team given that they’d already learned that men don’t like to say negative things

    about their wives.

    In the end, five key insights emerged that would shape—and are still shaping—how

    Canadian Tire markets itself to men. Though they shape advertising, they’re not the core

    messages of ads. Rather, the Project Darwin findings now inform the way the retailer speaks to

    and about men.

    “The Coles Notes of it,” Matthew Feaver says, “is that what drives life satisfaction for

    men is the relationship they have with their significant other. It’s uncanny, the correlation.” If

    Canadian Tire had stopped with the question “Why are men disengaging from our brand?” no

    one would have figured out that a man’s romantic relationship is hugely significant to his sense

    of well-being, or that that information could actually be hugely helpful in bringing men back to

    the stores. “We were messaging incorrectly in our ads,” Paivin says. “We were relying on the

    doofus portrayal, and it became abundantly clear that’s not how men want to be spoken to.”

    . . . . To me, the most powerful lesson from the project—other than how terribly we

    stereotype the modern male—is that true insight requires not only curiosity but patience. It takes

    patience to resist the temptation to start with the assumptions “everyone” knows are “true.” It

    takes patience not to try to wrap up the question period as quickly as possible and start working

    on conclusions and seeking consensus. Our natural instinct, particularly when a problem is

    serious, is to find a fix and try to implement it right away. But the risk is that we never get to the

    questions that will deliver the real payoff: the big, essential insights that point to a new path


    - pp. 52-53 (WHY IS IT SO HARD TO ASK “CHILDISH” QUESTIONS?): . . . curiosity on

    the job requires habits of thought that most of us don’t cultivate. At school, as we’ve seen, but

    often at home also, we learned that authority figures have answers, not questions. And in the

    workplace, most of us would prefer to be seen as authorities—even though thinking a little more

    “childishly” might actually wind up making us more authoritative.

    In many workplaces there are real or perceived disincentives to asking questions. A lot of

    people worry about revealing they don’t know something; they want to look like experts, not

    ignoramuses. There’s the fear of asking a “dumb” question, one that everyone else in the room

    knows the answer to, one that would make the questioner look pretty foolish.

    And then there’s concern about the possible consequences of challenging conventional

    wisdom. Most people are scrambling to secure a toehold and then hang on for dear life.

    Questioning isn’t the focus, unless the question is how to pay the bills. We don’t challenge the

    powers that be, no matter how we might complain about them, nor are we prone to questioning

    the way things are done in our workplace and how they might be improved, much less what the

    point of it all is. We don’t want to rock the boat. And, frequently, we don’t see fixing what’s

    wrong as our problem. We’ve got enough on our plates already.

    - pp. 56-57 (THE STATUS QUO BIAS): Martin, the long-time dean of the Rotman School of

    Management at the University of Toronto, is a globally recognized leader in the field of

    innovative thinking; he worked closely with Procter & Gamble to develop its renowned strategy

    for innovation. He notes that businesses have developed a wide range of tools rooted in science

    and mathematical modelling to help them evaluate strategy and strike the right balance between

    risk and reward.

    But as Martin teaches business students, the path to the future is not strewn with

    spreadsheets that helpfully point the way. As useful as evaluative tools can be—calculating the

    internal rate of return or using regression analysis (full disclosure: I don’t really know what that

    is, either)—for deciding a project’s worth, the real goal of all businesses should be to think

    divergently. To think of the things that haven’t been thought of yet, or to think of better ways to

    do things that have already been thought of.

    To question the status quo, that is. And it starts by going back to basics, the way

    Canadian Tire did.


    How, in our everyday lives, can we press control-alt-delete to erase the assumptions that prevent

    us from finding a better way forward? Is it really possible to ignore what we “know,” wipe the

    slate clean, turn our backs on the status quo and rethink basic questions about the world and

    about ourselves?

    - pp. 58-60: For more than twenty years, Claude Legrand has been training organizations and

    individuals to think more innovatively. Legrand, a consultant in Toronto and co-author of

    Innovative Intelligence, is a native of France who’s managed to retain not only his accent

    but also a good amount of Gallic charm, complete with twinkling blue eyes and a courtly

    manner. He believes that anyone can learn to think more innovatively and claims he can

    demonstrate his method in as little time as fifteen minutes, but, as with improving your posture,

    it takes weeks or months of reminders until the habits are ingrained.

    His method is founded on a simple directive: Don’t conclude that the problem as it’s first

    presented, or as you first perceive it, is indeed the actual problem. If you do, and you’ve got it

    wrong, the solution you produce may also be wrong. The first step to figuring out what your

    problem is, Legrand says, is to deconstruct it by questioning it. To illustrate what he’s talking

    about, in seminars he has participants write down a personal problem they want to solve. The

    only rule is that it has to be phrased in the form of a question and start with the words How


    Recently, one woman’s question was, “How to make my daughter behave better?”

    Legrand tackled it by first underlining each relevant word. Sometimes, he says, a seemingly

    innocuous word can raise a red flag. For instance, in the question “How can I come up with a

    solution that will satisfy both marketing teams?” the a is a major block. There are multiple

    possible solutions, not just one, but the question is now pointing you down a different (and

    inherently limiting) path.

    With the question “How to make my daughter behave better?” Legrand decided the

    relevant words were make, my, behave and better. He then asked the

    woman to define make. What did it mean, exactly, given that her daughter was eight years

    old? What was she prepared to do to compel her? Upon consideration, the woman acknowledged

    that there weren’t great lengths she could go to; an eight-year-old is less pliable than a four-year-

    old. In fact, she said as she pondered the word make, she remembered that in most things,

    her daughter learned by copying her behaviour, and therefore setting a good example might be

    the most powerful tool she had.

    Legrand then moved on to my, asking gently, “Are you a single parent?” No, the

    woman said, already nodding in understanding, changing her daughter’s behaviour wasn’t going

    to be a solo effort—her husband would have to be involved, too. “Right away,” Legrand said

    later, “we were into territory that had to do with how she and her spouse interact, and different

    styles around child rearing.” At the seminar, the woman readily conceded that she had been

    leaving her husband out; her approach to discipline was fairly unilateral, so there were

    sometimes differences in how the couple responded to the same behaviour. Confusing for their

    child, to say the least.

    Legrand proceeded to the word better, asking the woman what she really meant by

    that. After some hemming and hawing, it became apparent that better meant “up to my

    internal, never-quite-spelled-out expectations”—an arbitrary, subjective measure that wouldn’t

    be of much use to her eight-year-old (or to her father, who was now being promoted to partner in

    this behaviour-improving endeavour). At the end of this deconstruction, the woman seemed a

    little sheepish but happy. She had some idea that the path forward was connected to her own

    behaviour, her relationship with her husband and the way she communicated her expectations to

    her daughter.

    Legrand, too, was happy, though he hadn’t provided a solution. But that was never his

    goal. Rather, the goal was to get the woman to ask the right questions in order to find the real

    problems she needed to work on. And that’s not easy, he says, because “we are trained to find

    solutions.” Hunting, instead, for the right problems “is very painful for people.”


    (EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY CUSTOMERS)]: Virtually every process innovation

    starts with the same question: What do customers need and how can we produce it more

    effectively and cheaply? The most famous approach to answering these questions is Toyota’s

    lean manufacturing methodology, which focuses on eliminating waste. At the risk of

    oversimplifying, here’s the thinking: Let’s say there are twenty steps to making a car—would the

    customer pay for each step? And if not, could that step be eliminated, or performed more simply

    and cheaply?

    Lean manufacturing is one of the business concepts with the clearest applications to

    everyday life because it’s all about efficiency. If you think through all the steps of making a

    family dinner, for example, there are probably a few you can eliminate right off the bat, since

    your “customers” simply don’t value them. If your kids are anything like the ones in my house,

    for instance, I guarantee you they place no value on your cheese-grating skills—they won’t even

    notice if you switch over to the prepackaged stuff and sprinkle that on their pasta instead.

    But lean manufacturing isn’t just about making your own life easier. To figure out what’s

    important to your customers, whether they’re your kids or actual clients, you need empathy. And

    in and of itself, some awareness of another person’s perspective is almost certain to improve the


    Lean manufacturing your life goes something like this: Step one, identify the product

    you’re selling. Step two, identify your customer. Step three, examine the whole chain of

    “production”—what you do to create the end product. Then ask yourself whether your

    “customer” cares about every step of the chain.

    It’s well worth the time, says Christensen. He explained to me how he applies these

    concepts when thinking about his relationship with his wife: he thinks about “the job” that his

    wife has “hired” a husband for. Using a lean approach, he doesn’t ask what he values or cares

    about, but what she, the “customer,” values.

    “What I think she needs from a husband is very different from what she thinks she

    needs,” he explains. The lean goal, then, is to understand what she values and eliminate waste—

    wasted effort, for instance, performing what he views as key husbandly tasks but which his wife

    might not care about at all. She might not, for instance, give a hoot about getting a fancy card

    and flowers on Valentine’s Day but might highly value having him do the laundry on a regular

    basis. Understanding his wife’s criteria for satisfactory performance of his job has a few distinct

    benefits, he notes with a laugh: customers tend to “develop tremendous loyalty around ‘products’

    that get the job done well.”

    Lean manufacturing your life can, then, become a form of innovation: efficiencies that

    lead to incremental improvements in your relationships with others. I’ve seen this in my own

    home. I’m a compulsive tidier, possibly because I lived alone until I was thirty-two and got used

    to doing things the right way—my way! Or perhaps I’m a bit of a neat freak because I grew up in

    a household with seven kids, two busy parents and a few pets, and if you left your stuff lying

    around, forget it, you’d never find it again. So I learned to put things where they belong, and

    today, I pride myself on keeping our house nice and tidy. To me, this seemed like something

    pretty wonderful that I do for my family—selflessly, because they aren’t quite as grateful as I

    think they ought to be.

    But there’s another way to look at this. When I started thinking about tidiness as a service

    I provide, well, it was undeniable that my “customers” didn’t value it. My product was a well-

    ordered home, and the chain of production involved steps like reminding the kids not to put their

    dirty feet on the white duvet covers at the cottage. (I know, I know, but trust me, white beds

    really look great in our cottage.) However, the only person buying any of this was me. Hyper-

    neatness was my value. My “customers” had quite different needs, ones I’d never really thought

    about until I looked at the world through their eyes. The kids just wanted to be able to relax and

    sprawl out. For them, that’s what it means to feel at home. A certain amount of order and

    cleanliness makes sense, but they don’t want to live in a museum run by a drill sergeant with a

    feather duster in her hand. And I was doing something that made them feel less comfortable, less

    at home. So I learned to relax my standards. A little.

    Thinking about what other people need from you as a job you are trying to perform can

    help you figure out the little changes that will make a big difference. And that’s really all that

    innovative thinkers like Gordon Eberts or Issy Sharp did. They looked at the jobs out there and

    figured out new ways to get them done in a more streamlined and convenient fashion. And

    knowing what your customers need starts with putting yourself in their shoes, which requires


    My on-air performance coach, a soft-spoken Texan named Nick Dalley, has been

    drumming this into me for about ten years now. Gently, because that’s his style. He radiates

    kindness, actually, which is important in his line of work, since his clients can be pretty thin-

    skinned about how they come across on television. And insecure: a lot of Nick’s coaching

    involves reviewing videos of yourself, which never stops making you squirm no matter how long

    you’ve been in TV, and then walking you through what you could do better. This process could

    feel like torture, but Nick’s secret, at least with me, is to make us co-conspirators. We are a team,

    serving the same customer—the viewer. Everything we do together must focus on giving viewers

    what they need. Nick quite deliberately uses that word—need—because his theory is that

    people who watch the news need to feel taken care of by the people delivering the information.

    Viewers need to believe that their interests—getting information in a way that makes sense to

    them—are being served.

    Thinking about my job this way has really changed how I approach it. I’m much more

    likely to speak directly to viewers now, for one thing, and for another, I try to follow Nick’s

    advice and think not about myself and how I’m coming across but instead think about the

    audience and what they need. Here’s the balancing: never lose sight of the fact that you are the

    servant and viewers are the masters, yet always remain in control and convey competence. I

    think of myself as being sort of like a high-end gentleman’s valet in days gone by; not in charge,

    but capable of providing good guidance. Think of the truly great on-air anchors and interviewers

    and chances are that, on some level, you think of them as friends. People you know and trust. I

    guarantee that those luminaries, from Ted Koppel to Peter Mansbridge to Diane Sawyer, aren’t

    thinking about themselves when they deliver information or conduct interviews. They are

    thinking about you.

    Which is as it should be, not least because it keeps them on their toes, always trying to

    find new and better ways to do their jobs. “What do others need from me?” is a question that, in

    the business world, drives successful innovation.

    - pp. 63-65 [CHAPTER THREE—Question Yourself (STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES,

    OPPORTUNITIES, THREATS)]: Curiosity is the cornerstone of all business strategy. There

    are a lot of ways to come up with a strategic plan, but a good one always answers the same

    fundamental questions: What do we offer that’s unique? What do our customers want from us?

    Where are we going? How can we get there? To every question, of course, there are multiple

    answers, so the follow-up question, the one that helps companies weigh options, is, “Why? Why

    do x instead of y or z?”

    It’s much easier to answer these questions if a company has performed what’s known in

    the business world as a SWOT analysis. The acronym stands for strengths, weaknesses,

    opportunities and threats, and the process embodies a very disciplined type of curiosity. A

    SWOT analysis involves asking, What are our strengths and weaknesses? What are our

    opportunities? What are the threats? Combined, these questions provide the answer to a

    fundamental question: Who are we?


    Questioning yourself is viewed as an essential and serious order of business, not least because it

    sets the stage for innovation. The payoff is quantifiable, and the costs of failing to do it are

    potentially catastrophic.

    So it’s strange that in everyday life, asking “Who am I?” comes off as hippyish or smacks

    of navel-gazing. Many people seem to have the idea that the question should already have been

    answered, definitively, by the time we entered the workforce. But we began the long march to

    the workforce in adolescence, when we started choosing what, where and how hard to study.

    How many of us started down a certain path propelled not by a deep understanding of ourselves

    but by a vague sense of what the world valued and what others expected of us? The majority, I’d

    guess. It’s rare to know yourself so well as a teenager or young adult that you beetle along

    purposefully, pursuing your heart’s desire with the certain knowledge that you’re perfectly suited

    for the path you’ve chosen.

    And even if you did, it’s quite possible you were wrong. I certainly was. From the time I

    was nine years old, I wanted to be an architect. Even as a little kid, one of my favourite pastimes

    was to draw buildings in plan view, seen from above. I wasn’t a great artist by any means, but I

    was a doodler of the first order, prone to covering pages with shapes and lines while

    daydreaming. And one thing I particularly loved to do was to draw a structure—a barn, for

    instance, complete with horse stalls and hay loft—then figure out how to transform it into

    something else, like a house. The stall might become a child’s room; the hay loft, a living room.

    Finally, I’d add people, and try to figure out how they’d use the space, which areas they’d like

    best and what features of the structure might be problematic for them.

    When adults asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always the same:

    “An architect.” Invariably, the response was encouraging. As I got older, I was given books on

    the subject, and envisioned myself building a great bridge, the kind that tests the boundaries of

    physics, or perhaps an airport, something a little grander than we had in Winnipeg. My twin

    sister, Adrian, and I were the youngest of seven children, and by the time we were born our

    parents were deep into political life and fiercely committed to public service. There was always

    an unspoken understanding that we were to do something purposeful with our lives, to choose a

    direction and pursue it rather than let life happen to us. My mother and father, therefore,

    encouraged me to view architecture not as a daydream but as a concrete goal, and my role in a

    family of lawyers was to be The Architect, less because I’d demonstrated talent in this area than

    because I’d declared an intention. My older brother Gregory was incredibly creative in a highly

    technical way—he sat in his room drafting designs for fun, but nobody suggested he should

    study architecture, and he never advanced the idea either. And from an early age Adrian was

    clearly very skilled, artistically, but she wasn’t encouraged to become an artist—anyway, she

    leaned toward law, which suited the family narrative perfectly.

    So when I finished high school, I knew exactly where I was heading: the Faculty of

    Architecture at the University of Manitoba. I’d been planning on it for years by that point. And

    as you might imagine, given that fact, I did well in all my subjects. Except one. In design, the

    core of the program, I routinely achieved second-rate results. Not only did my classmates do

    better work, but they enjoyed doing it a whole lot more than I did. They spent hours in the studio,

    where pulling all-nighters became a badge of honour, while I escaped as soon as I could to work

    at home in isolation, where no one would observe me struggling. And while there, I escaped

    from the work as much as I could; if a deadline loomed, it suddenly seemed pressing to bake

    something, or clean the bathroom or paint the kitchen cabinets.

    Our professors could be quite harsh, so I braced for blistering criticism when our designs

    were being critiqued publicly. But I was never singled out. Maybe they figured there was nothing

    that more talented students could learn from a dissection of my unremarkable models and

    drawings, or perhaps they knew that no criticism would be constructive for me. I’d already

    improved where I could—neatness of drafting, watercolour skills—but the core of design, the

    marriage of function and aesthetics, simply eluded me.

    I’d always done pretty well academically without having to kill myself, so pulling in

    middling marks even when I did kill myself was hard to accept. I started to feel sick all the

    time—migraines, heartburn, cold after cold. And yet I avoided the obvious conclusion that

    architecture wasn’t for me. This information threatened all my ideas about myself. Who was I,

    after all, if not The Architect in my family?

    So after getting my bachelor’s degree I was at a bit of a loss. Clearly, I was never going

    to be a brilliant architect. Even respectable mediocrity would be a stretch. But what else could I

    do? What was I even good at? I had no clue. I decided to take a year off and go to Toronto,

    where my mother and stepfather lived. My plan was to work for a while, then go back to school

    for a master’s degree—in architecture, of course. Like many people who get stuck on an idea, I

    just couldn’t let this one go. Maybe more courses would magically unleash the hidden designer

    inside me.

    When I got to Toronto and began job-hunting, it was 1991, mid-recession, but my choice

    to drop Latin in Grade 9 and take up typing paid off. I was fast enough to land a secretarial-type

    job at the Globe and Mail’s electronic database unit, then called InfoGlobe. At that point,

    journalism wasn’t even on my radar—a plus, since my job had nothing to do with reporting. I

    was essentially office girl Friday. My title wasn’t “receptionist,” but when the phone rang, I

    answered it. As I recall, my other duties involved printing documents and a great deal of


    Although my job didn’t excite me, I did love spending time in the Globe newsroom. In

    the early 1990s, it looked like the set of All the President’s Men: slightly grimy,

    thrumming with activity that picked up urgency and volume as the day wore on and deadlines

    grew closer. Every evening in a huge five-storey room at the back of the building, the monster

    printing press would grumble to life, work its way up to a roar and spit out fresh, damp, inky

    newspapers. The outward-looking focus of the newsroom, the relentless drive to find out what

    was going on in the rest of the world, was exhilarating.

    After a few months, I built up the nerve to pitch a story idea. I was thrilled, and a little

    shocked, when an editor gave me the assignment. I’ll never forget staying up late, working on

    that first article. It felt so different from the all-nighters I’d pulled in school, working on

    architectural models that never came out quite right. There, the problem was always the same. I

    simply didn’t have a clear picture in my head to articulate. Sometimes I would get lucky and

    come up with an interesting shape, but it wasn’t based on any core idea or organizing principle.

    It was completely haphazard. Most of the time I was spinning my wheels, chasing a concept just

    outside my grasp.

    To work hard at something challenging that is within your grasp is a very different

    feeling. You no longer feel like you’re slogging through the bush without mosquito repellent, a

    compass or any clue where you’re going. If your mind is engaged, curiosity pushes you on and

    keeps you going—curiosity, after all, simply entails being open to and interested in something.

    And if your interest level is high enough, it doesn’t even feel like you’re working exactly. That’s

    how it was for me when I wrote. I liked trying to figure out why something had happened and

    what the consequences might be, and I liked figuring out how the pieces of a story fit together. I

    started freelancing for the paper, writing articles after-hours, and then, a stroke of luck. The

    Globe was experimenting with a classroom edition designed for schools, and I got the chance to

    work on it. The idea of going back to university to study architecture—which I’d still been

    telling myself, albeit increasingly half-heartedly, was my plan—went right out the window.

    Once I’d made the leap to journalism, I hardly reflected on it. If anyone asked why I’d

    given up architecture, I had a pat response: “I figured out I was never going to be very good at

    it.” It was only very recently, describing my path to a new friend over lunch, that I actually

    remembered, in a visceral way, being nine years old and drawing those plan views of buildings,

    and then painstakingly adding tiny people, complete with names, ages and quirks, and trying to

    figure out how they’d live in the space. At some point when I was a child, someone must have

    told me that what I was doing was architecture, and I came to believe passionately that

    architecture was what I loved. But over lunch, when my friend asked me to describe these

    buildings I used to draw, it finally dawned on me. I had never ever actually drawn the outside of

    a building. It didn’t matter to me what the exterior looked like. That wasn’t the point. The point

    was the people inside, how they interacted. Their story, in other words. In reality, what I was

    doing was never architecture at all. It was a whole lot closer to journalism.

    In retrospect, it seems strange that I didn’t recognize this earlier. Even while I was

    floundering at university, I didn’t realize that the subject I was studying didn’t bear much

    relation to what actually interested me. Stranger still, for someone who now makes a living

    asking questions, I never thought to ask myself some pretty basic ones: If I love architecture,

    why do I feel so miserable? If this is the right career for me, why am I not very good at it? Why

    do I want to spend my life doing, anyway?

    I didn’t ask because I’d already decided what I wanted to be when I grew up, and it never

    occurred to me to second-guess myself in light of my actual experiences. Everyone else seemed

    to think I had a good answer to the what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up question—“An

    architect” never failed to elicit approval. I’d become so accustomed to thinking this was my

    destiny that I ignored the mounting evidence that I’d fundamentally misunderstood what

    architecture was all about and was neither particularly good at it nor even all that interested in it.

    I knew the right answer, and I was sticking with it.

    This is a trap many of us fall into, and not just when we’re twenty-two years old and

    trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up. On the job and at home, many of us

    hit on an answer that sounds “right,” or that others approve of, then just stop questioning. As

    Claude Legrand points out in his innovative intelligence seminars, this is why many of us waste

    a lot of time banging our heads on the proverbial wall. “Instead of going back and looking at the

    question, people tinker with the solution, trying to make it fit,” he explains. Even when we’re

    unhappy, many of us don’t step back and perform the SWOT analysis that would help us figure

    out, before we waste even more of our lives, who we really are and what we want and are

    capable of achieving. The relationship that’s never going to work, the job that just isn’t satisfying

    no matter what you do, the degree in architecture that is not in fact the path to happiness—to get

    out of these quandaries (or better yet, prevent getting into them) we need to be clear-eyed and

    objective about ourselves and our circumstances.

    The consequence of failing to do that are the same as those facing businesses—even more

    dire, perhaps, because what’s being squandered isn’t just the potential for profits. It’s the

    potential for happiness. We miss opportunities to innovate and to make positive changes in our

    lives when we aren’t willing to question ourselves.

    ME, INC.

    Questioning our own decisions and beliefs about ourselves is an unsettling prospect. What if we

    discover we were wrong and now have to make a lot of changes? Some people are scared to look

    too closely at themselves because they’re convinced that they can’t change, that they simply lack

    the capacity to innovate in their own lives. One of the biggest impediments to innovative

    thinking is simply that many of us don’t believe we’re capable of it.

    This is where someone like Rolf Smith comes in. He spent twenty-four years in the Air

    Force, mostly in strategic planning in intelligence, before heading to the private sector, where his

    mission is to help people come up with big ideas and better solutions. Now in his early seventies

    and endlessly energetic, “Colonel Innovation” is well known among Fortune 500 companies for

    his retreats and group “thinking expeditions.” They really are expeditions, with an

    adventure/roughing-it angle. Rock climbing, for instance, is usually on the agenda, because

    Smith likes to push people out of their comfort zones and force them to see themselves

    differently. “As people progress in their climbing ability, they start thinking differently about

    what they’re capable of doing,” he says, “and when they get done, they realize that they’ve done

    what they considered impossible. If they were able to do a 600-foot climb, well, they can walk

    through walls when they get back home.”

    Early on, he discovered that getting people to innovatively approach professional

    problems, particularly chronic problems, required just such a mind shift. “They need to think of

    themselves as innovators, mentally incorporate themselves as innovators,” he explains. So his

    expeditions now involve a component he calls Me, Inc. Each participant starts by compiling an

    inventory of his or her skills and abilities, and then sits down with a “board of directors”—three

    other people on the expedition, usually colleagues—to talk about something that person really

    loves to do. The board members provide feedback, highlighting the skills and strengths that must

    be required to do that thing. The point of the exercise is to reveal that this thing you love to do,

    which you never thought of as being particularly innovative, does involve innovation skills.

    Next, each participant has to come up with 101 goals and wishes. There’s a boot camp

    element to this: “You start it in the morning, and you don’t go to sleep until you have 101,”

    Smith says briskly. He’s big on shaking up people’s routines—keeping them up late, feeding

    them irregularly, serving beer at breakfast—to get people used to the idea and experience of


    Coming up with 101 goals and wishes is, he says, really tough for most people. Oh, the

    first twenty-five to thirty are pretty easy, but “when you push beyond that, you start thinking

    about things that you don’t really think are possible, or that you think you’d be unlikely to be

    able to do. That’ll get you to sixty or eighty. And at that point, you start putting some really

    crazy stuff in.” Almost invariably, however, when participants review and analyze the list with

    the board of directors of Me, Inc., they realize that some of those ideas aren’t so crazy after all.

    When Smith tells them to narrow the list down to their top five goals and wishes, almost

    invariably, some of the “crazy” late-in-the-day additions make the final cut, and they’re always

    not just about change but about innovations for that participant personally.

    “Over a period of five or six days you’re constantly interacting with the other people in

    the class about your Me, Inc., and they’re pointing things out to you about your own capabilities.

    By the time you come up with your top five, you’re not just picking the easy stuff. Because you

    see yourself as an innovator,” says Smith. “And out of that comes your overall mission, which

    could be ‘To create a better family life’ or ‘A different family life.’” Better and different are, to

    Smith, key indicators of personality type and innovation style. “Better,” like “improve,” indicates

    that you’re adaptive. “Different” pegs you as more of an originator. Finally, with input from your

    board of directors, you figure out what strategies you’ll need to implement your mission and

    come up with an action plan.

    Smith’s parting instruction to clients is to cross out their title on their business cards and

    write in “Innovator” instead, so they have to explain what that means when they hand out the

    cards. It’s an effective way, he says, of forcing yourself to realize that the capacity for innovation

    is in your DNA, just like the curiosity that drives it. But that realization is just the beginning.

    Thereafter, you have to “practise, practise, practise,” Smith says. On his thinking expeditions, he

    has people carry little slips of blue paper “to capture ideas.” They serve the same function that

    Post-its did for the Project Darwin team at Canadian Tire, communicating an expectation—I’m

    going to have some ideas today—and ensuring that nothing gets lost in the shuffle. It’s one way

    Smith gauges buy-in at the end of a session: How many people have made carrying and using

    blue slips a habit? In his opinion, electronic methods aren’t nearly as effective because they’re

    “not as reinforcing, and they’re harder to play with. It’s not as easy to connect two separate

    documents on a computer as it is to put two pieces of paper together in a different way.”

    - pp. 95-97 (CHAPTER FIVE): Addison Lawrence is known as “Preacher” by his colleagues,

    who joke about passing a hat to take up a collection after his impassioned speeches at

    departmental meetings. Within five minutes of meeting him, you understand why. Dr.

    Lawrence’s zeal for shrimp borders on the messianic.

    A scientist whose expertise is shrimp and starfish aquaculture—the marine equivalent of

    agriculture—he has a CV that runs to seventy-three pages and includes more than 400

    publications, with titles like “Classification and quantization of phospholipids and their dietary

    effects on lipid composition in shrimp.” But Lawrence, who teaches at Texas A&M University,

    is one of those rare professors whose erudition doesn’t get in the way of his enthusiasm. In a

    lecture hall packed with 200 students, he ambles out from behind the lectern and roams around,

    trying to make eye contact with each one. In conversation, even when explaining obscure

    scientific concepts, he doesn’t expound so much as exclaim “Wow!” and “Jiminy crickets!” and

    “This will blow your mind!”

    Shrimp, he tells me excitedly, are “just loaded with highly unsaturated fatty acids and the

    good cholesterol. And it’s all protein!” Then, conspiratorially, “Want to dream with me for a

    minute? Today, shrimp is a luxury, but in twenty to thirty years, it will be as common as chicken.

    There could be a shrimp farm in every city in America.” If he’s right and shrimp is indeed the

    new chicken, Lawrence—a seventy-six-year-old with a Yosemite Sam accent and a faded Texas

    A&M University cap situated jauntily atop a thatch of tousled white hair—is the man who will

    have made that possible.

    Americans already eat a lot of shrimp; Las Vegas casinos alone go through close to

    70,000 pounds a year. In fact, the United States consumes more shrimp than any other country in

    the world, annually polishing off about $4 billion worth, 94 percent of which is imported,

    primarily from Asia. Shrimp account for 35 percent of all American seafood imports, by far the

    largest proportion, more than salmon, crab, tuna, scallops and squid combined. In other words,

    the country runs a large shrimp deficit in terms of balance of payments because, as shellfish go,

    they’re expensive.

    There are two reasons they are pricy. First, they’re not so easy to catch in the wild (partly

    because there simply aren’t enough of them), and second, to farm them, you need very warm

    water. Even so, there’s a limit to what a shrimp farm can produce. Saltwater ponds yield up to

    20,000 pounds annually per acre of water; about 50,000 pounds can be harvested annually per

    acre using raceway systems, where shrimp are raised in rectangular, trough-like containers that

    range from 300 to 2,000 feet long and 6 to 15 feet wide.

    But because the growing season is year-round in the tropics, it’s possible to harvest two

    and a half crops annually there, compared to a single harvest in the United States. Consequently,

    shrimp farming, once a license to print money in places like Texas and northern Florida, is on the

    verge of extinction in America. “Today, shrimp farming in the U.S. is 25 percent of what it was

    in 2000,” says Lawrence. “Our farmers are going bankrupt.” And quickly.

    Unless, that is, they get their hands on Dr. Lawrence’s new system, in which case they

    can put more than a million pounds of shrimp on ice per acre per year—a more than twentyfold

    increase in production over current farming methods. What’s his secret? Well, it’s not a secret

    any more, as it’s been patented and is in the process of being commercialized. But the innovation

    is, as he puts it, “simple as heck.”

    To come up with an idea that’s both simple and revolutionary, however, he had to ask the

    right questions. The most important of which turned out to be, why wouldn’t this work?

    - pp. 103-106 (A BETTER WORLD, VIA CRUSTACEANS): A shrimp lover who tucks into

    crustaceans about once a week, Lawrence has a soft spot for those of us stranded in northern

    climes. “If you’re not on the Gulf coast or the southern Atlantic coast, you may really never have

    tasted the high-quality shrimp. Most of the shrimp that are imported, would you believe, have

    been frozen and thawed at least two times and maybe up to four times.” If there were more

    shrimp farms, we, too, could eat them fresh.

    By the late 1990s, American farmers needed someone like Lawrence on their side

    because Asian farmers were pushing them out of the market. The math was pretty simple. To

    remain viable, American shrimp farms had to do what the Asian farms were doing—grow

    shrimp every day of the year. But how on earth were they going to do that given the weather? It

    was the kind of challenge Lawrence had been looking for his whole life, complete with never-

    ending learning opportunities, a sense of urgency and the opportunity to do work that might

    make people’s lives better in a very real, quantifiable way.

    “I’m a bit of a Don Quixote,” he acknowledges, and certainly there were plenty of

    windmills to tilt at, the first being the U.S. climate. The minimum water temperature for

    commercial breeding is twenty-five degrees centigrade, but thirty degrees or even higher is

    better. Maintaining that heat year-round would, even in the southern states, necessitate a

    greenhouse or some other sort of structure—which, right off the bat, would increase capital costs


    Estimates of production potential suggested shrimp farms operating raceways year-round

    might produce 25,000 shrimp per acre per year, but “the accountants,” as Lawrence calls them,

    announced that to justify the additional costs of indoor operation, the yield needed to be ten times

    that, 250,000 shrimp per acre, in order to break even. “ ‘Oh my God’ is exactly what we said,”

    recalls Lawrence, a religious man whose speech isn’t generally flavoured with such outbursts.

    “Oh my God!’”

    But the accountants weren’t finished. More bad news: the shrimp also had to grow

    faster—not the one gram per week the farms were then getting, but one and a half to two grams

    per week. “And the other thing they told us was, ‘Hey guys, you’ve got to lower your feed costs

    and use less feed per pound of shrimp that you produce.’”

    It all may have sounded like an impossible list, but not to Lawrence, who relied on “that

    old American ingenuity,” the kind he’d learned growing up in the Ozarks. He viewed the

    problems facing shrimp farmers as exciting opportunities to discover new things and “to go to

    places where others aren’t going. And hey! This could better the standard of living for mankind

    at the same time.” He just needed to figure out how to do it.


    Fear of failing is one of the biggest impediments to our natural desire to make things better and

    to innovate. Because wrong answers and mistakes are stigmatized in so many schools—and

    families—many of us try that much harder to locate the “right” answer as quickly as possible.

    One reason innovative thinkers view challenges as positive opportunities rather than

    threatening tests is that they view failures much more benignly—it’s one way to weed out

    answers and approaches that don’t work. Failure, viewed through this lens, isn’t catastrophic. It’s

    just part of a natural process of elimination that clears the path to success. In this way, too,

    innovators share a habit of mind with really young kids, who are fearless about being wrong

    once in a while. Preschoolers are delighted when they figure something out, but not particularly

    upset—and rarely, if ever, embarrassed—when they make mistakes.

    Innovation by definition involves blind alleys and wild goose chases. Take Matt Feaver’s

    sea lion mission—what, really, did the Project Darwin team learn from his study of male versus

    female sea lions? If the measure of success is what his mission contributed to the end product,

    the answer is absolutely nothing, big waste of time—no gold star. But if the measure is whether

    his mission encouraged the team to think more innovatively, to take risks without worrying about

    making mistakes or looking foolish, the sea lion escapade would have to be rated a success.

    In the one-right-answer world, mistakes are costly, embarrassing disasters on the road to

    ruin. But in the control-alt-delete world, mistakes are framed as growth opportunities. Recently,

    confessing to making lots of them has even become something of a badge of honour for business

    leaders. “I’m always telling people, ‘Look, I make a mistake every day, but hopefully I’m not

    making the same mistake twice,’” Peter Loscher, CEO of Siemens, told the New York Times in

    2011. “If you think that you’re not making mistakes then you are not making the tough decisions

    that you should make as a leader.”

    Last edited by HERO; 11-02-2013 at 02:10 AM.
    “Must get that Capel street library book renewed or they’ll write to
    Kearney, my garantor. Reincarnation: that’s the word.

    — Some people believe, he said, that we go on living in another body
    after death, that we lived before. They call it reincarnation. That we all lived
    before on the earth thousands of years ago or some other planet. They say we
    have forgotten it. Some say they remember their past lives.

    The sluggish cream wound curdling spirals through her tea. Better remind
    her of the word: metempsychosis. An example would be better.”

    —from Ulysses by James Joyce

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts