‘Cannot’ Is A Dirty Word

April 29, 2009

Cristina Favreau has the following quote on her blog

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few. — Shunryu Suzuki

That is a good thing to remember. Too often we get closed into our area of expertise, and assume that there is no other way to view obstacles or opportunities.

It reminds me of a quote that I recall from many years ago – I think it was from the alternative hydrogen engineering firm Ballard Power Systems.  (if I am wrong forgive me)

The quote that I read was about hiring scientists that had no previous experience in automotive, batteries, and the related technologies thst Ballard was researching.

The reason given was pretty much the same, that experts know what won’t work.

And having scientists that were beginners, would lead to looking with different lenses at what the experts said could not be done.

The SMB Takeaway

If any one ever says that something cannot be done.

Borrow a line from the Toyota playbook.

Ask why.

And ask it four times after the first one.

I do add one caveat though.

If cannot is being used as a synonym for should not – that can be a different story!

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