Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Are Your Samples Faulty?

I offered a (relatively original) idea at a meeting recently. Immediately (and in quite familiar fashion) the other parties came up with reasons why it wouldn't work, saying things like:

  • "I made a similar proposal, X, to Company Y and their response was negative," or
  • "Proposal X sounds like a {insert negative term, e.g. manipulation} and I know from experience that companies would never accept {the negative term}."

I'm not suggesting that new ideas must be accepted uncritically or even at all.

What I wish to highlight is how we tend to respond to new ideas by taking negative samples from our previous experience and making these representative of all future scenarios, leading to the all-familiar: It won't work.

What about more encouraging samples from the experience of other (perhaps more enlightened or more successful) individuals? Why let our samples be 'all in all'?

New ideas necessarily bring diversity to existing conditions. By keeping our eyes fixed (or obsessed) with a prior bad outcome resulting from said conditions, we can never open ourselves to the possibility that these conditions can be changed.

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