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The Wisdom of Collaboration

By Peter Lloyd

After defining a problem as something that has a yet-to-be-found solution, somebody a whole lot sharper that I is supposed to have observed that, "if there's no solution, then it's not a problem."

Except for inherent contradictions, such as a perpetual motion machine or a square circle, I think every hornet's nest--whether it's call a problem or not--can be humbled. Of course, I and people who agree have eternity on our side.

Someday far in the future, somebody with wisdom beyond what we can imagine today, standing on the shoulders of tomorrow's giants, will deliver a cure for the common cold, a Theory of Everything, and a way to keep people from letting their dogs poop in your front yard.

The challenge for the pragmatic, success-minded inventor, then, is to work on those problem that can be solved reasonably soon. Ideally, to present a solution to the world about a week ahead of its time.

Creative wisdom lies in knowing which battles to fight and where to spend your resources. But let's not confuse wisdom with timidity. Too many problems have been labeled impossible to solve, too many solutions, not ready for prime time.

I give you an inventory of "wise" words that notable naysayers have been forced to eat.
You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck.
--Jim Denny
Manager of "Grand Ole Opry," to Elvis Presley, 1954

I think there is a world market for about five computers.
—Thomas J. Watson, Chairman IBM

You'd better learn secretarial work or else get married.
--Emmeline Snively to Marilyn Monroe, 1944

People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.
—Darryl Zanuck

We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.
—Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962

Airplanes are interesting toys, but they are of no military value whatsoever.
—Marechal Ferdinand Fock
Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre

The singer will have to go.
—Eric Easton, on the Rolling Stones

The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.
—Admiral William Leahy
U.S. Atomic Bomb Project
Today, there's no excuse for shrinking from the toughest challenges we face, because we have virtually unlimited creative resources at our disposal. We can collaborate in ways our inventor ancestors could not imagine. There's no place for the word impossible. With just a few clicks, you can enlist the help of co-innovation experts in their external innovation networks and communities.

Thomas Edison encouraged his people to get ideas from anywhere. Now we can.

Related Video

Peter Lloyd is co-creator with Stephen Grossman of Animal Crackers, the breakthrough problem-solving tool designed to crack your toughest problems.
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