Fresh and Innovative – A Core Value of Ours

In CAFE Life we have three core values. One of these is ‘Fresh and Innovative.’ The value challenges us to have a ‘beginners mindset.’

I had only one idea - REVERSE

A couple of weeks ago I was reversing out the garage, which is situated close to the road. This means that you need to stop underneath the garage door in the event of an approaching vehicle. When this happens, the bonnet of the car is below the garage door sensor, which means that the garage door will come down on your bonnet if you stay in that position. 

That day I found myself in this scenario. The garage door started its descent, and I was calculating frantically in my mind whether I would make it out on time as the passing car passed the rear of my car. When it did, I launched backwards into the road with a ‘James Bond flair,’  the descending garage door just missing my car. My wife, who was sitting in the passenger seat, was horrified. ‘Why did you not move forward when you saw there was a car coming?’ was her sharp and assertive response.

I mumbled that my timing was perfect and how I had known that I would make it out on time. The worrying truth: I had not even thought of that as an option. In that slightly tense situation, my mind had come up with only one idea, which relied totally on the other guy being quick enough. What’s absurd is that there were a couple of options that are common sense solutions, and all of these within my sphere of influence. I could have pulled all the way back into the garage, or even better just clicked the garage remote when the door began its descent, or jump out the car and block the sensor. But I only had one idea in my mind.

Fresh and Innovative - A Core Value of Ours

The Trained Incapacity of the Expert

Susan David talks about the ‘trained incapacity of the experts’ in her well worth reading book, Emotional Agility. The term engages a condition that can fall on ‘experts’ who are in default modes of thinking – in other words they are not really thinking at all. Here, they can be the last to see common sense solutions to problems because they have become so accustomed to seeing and doing things a certain way. They lack agility and they fail to interpret context. And, they come up with ‘prefabricated solutions’ to problems, rather than applying their mind to the uniqueness of this moment. My near miss with the garage door in some ways highlights this. All I could see was what I always do – reverse.

The ‘expert’ can be handy when the world is predictable as the variables are the same and what happened last time will likely happen this time. But the label and entitlement of expert can be hugely limiting when conditions are changing. In a changing world, we need less default thinking and higher levels of deliberate awareness and analysis.

To maintain a fresh and innovative posture requires that we give experience its correct weight. Experience is a wonderful resource that enables wisdom and decision making. But experience must recognise that changing dynamics change response and approach. And never have we lived in a world of such profound change.

Fresh and Innovative - A Core Value of Ours

All Environments are Changing

And that’s why this value is so important to us. We must never assume that one workshop is the same as another, or what worked with that customer will apply to this customer. Or the challenges of two years ago are the same as the challenges of now. A starting point to ‘fresh and innovative’ is to become more mindful of context and to ask three most simple yet profound questions,

  • How are things changing?
  • What else?
  • What do I need to let go of?

As I consider this, I am reminded of these powerful words by poet TS Elliot.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.

To be ‘fresh and innovative’ is a decision to break down old categories, to slow down with mindfulness, and to have the courage to let go. What are you breaking down, slowing down and observing?

Over the next few weeks we are going to be staying in this value of ours, sharing some interesting resources. Please join our CAFE Life LinkedIn page and CAFE Life SA YouTube channel to receive more resources. We would love to hear your ‘garage door’ stories.

Fresh and Innovative - A Core Value of Ours

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