Greetings. In my consulting on strategy, innovation, and building remarkable customer experiences, I have the privilege of working with many top technology companies and organizations. Companies and organizations filled with highly-trained engineers, scientists, and technologists who have great expertise in their particular disciplines. In fact, you could say that many of them are "geniuses" in their chosen fields. But does it make them more innovative than the rest of us?
We use to assume that the answer to this question was a resounding "YES!" An assumption based on the belief that the more we know about a specific area, the more likely we are to see its possibilities. But what if that's not the case? What if it turns out that the more we know about something, the less likely we are to see its possibilities? And, the more likely we are to see things for what they are rather than what they could be.
Business success is all about seeing things in new ways and, as a result, creating new and more powerful solutions to the problems and opportunities we face. So while a high level of expertise is important (and often essential), we are far more likely to create meaningful innovation when we combine what we know best with the ideas and wisdom of others. And that takes curiosity and a willingness to step outside of our comfort zones and past our highly-developed expertise. Remember the clever automotive engineers at Nissan who combined what they knew with the insight of marine biologists in order to design cars that wouldn't collide? Or the smart folks at 3M who created a stethoscope that could actually analyze irregular heartbeats and transmit its findings instantly to a cardiologist located anywhere?
We win in business and in life when we understand the limits and the burden of the things we know too well. And when we stretch beyond the boundaries in order to unlock our real genius.