Need For Invention

Meme – Problems Without Solutions

There is no one to ask. 

One of the fundamental differences between traditional development and original innovation is the lack of readily available answers to hard questions.   

Small ideas, enhancements, and incremental change, can be guided by experts in the status quo.  Traditional project management assumes someone, somewhere, knows the answers.  Problems are solved by talking with the appropriate technical specialist or a business subject management expert (SME).

Innovative initiatives are fundamentally different. They can’t rely on the status quo or existing knowledge to solve their complex original problems.   There is a gap between what innovators know and what they must do.  No one knows the answer.   The bigger and more original the dream, the wider the gap that must be filled with ingenuity and adaptive problem solving.   

Teams must be “smart” in different ways: 

Ingenuity Replaces Expertise – The most important problems facing an innovative project have no solution … and there is no one to “go ask”.  This means that the team must be capable of inventing its own solutions from scratch, often dealing head on with challenges that have eluded solution for many years.

Problem Solving Replaces Control – The lack of “known” solution and a clear understanding of the entire challenge makes is impossible to lock down the work at the beginning of the project.  There is simply not enough knowledge to anticipate and plan the course of the work.  New, unexpected problems will arise as a natural part of the creative process.  Rigid control in this environment is counter productive. 

Without the ability to invent their own original solutions, the team will quickly become stuck, overwhelmed by unexpected and unsolved problems.  


Become experts at solving complex problems. 

Good Reads: 


Brainstorming Questions

  • What lacks a good solution? What challenges give the status quo persistent problems?   What is unduly difficult to do?  What do the SME’s claim “can’t be done”?   
  •  Who on the team is able to invent original solutions to complex problems without relying on someone else to provide the answer? 
  • Who on the team deals with unexpected problems that are discovered in the middle of a project?
  • Do project management processes incorporate original problem solving as a key risk management and design tool.
  • Do we punish people for discovering new insights, opportunities, problems?
  • Is ingenuity and adaptive problem solving valued and rewarded?

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