Sometimes the right way is to take the wrong one


Have we been trained to focus – to set a destination and make our way there?

As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?

Does that mean that successful people and organisations have the equivalent of a success satnav – they program in where they want to go, and that’s just where they end up.

Rod Judkins, in his book The Art of Creative Thinking, writes about how we get so used to routines that we get stuck.

We develop habits, ways of moving and working, of getting from A to B, that mean we start to act automatically and stop being aware of what we are doing.

A tactic to to jolt us out is to do things that disrupt the everyday normal habits we have – what Guy Debord termed psychogeography.

For example, we could take the same route as we normally would to get into town, but try doing it carrying a sofa.

Would we have a different experience? Would some people help us? Would we have interactions we would never have had normally?

Judkins calls this going from A to B via Z.

Somehow, when I looked at this line, I read it completely wrong.

What I saw, and what stayed with me as an image, was to go from B to A via Z.

And this results in a different approach.

We’ve heard of the saying fake it till you make it.

Any startup founder will always say yes when asked if they can do something. They know that if we sign the contract, they’ll figure out a way to deliver.

There’s an infinite number of ways we can go from here.

There are usually only a few ways that end at a particular place.

For example, let’s say we’re doing a presentation about something we know a lot about.

We could talk for a long time and elaborate on every nuance of the situation.

And put our audience to sleep.

Or, we could focus on just the things that matter to them and bring out the main information, the key aspects of the situation that help them understand and clarify what they need to do.

And that would be a technically competent presentation.

Or, we could focus on the things that matter to them but take them first on a different path – perhaps something they didn’t expect to see, which wakes them up and gets them to become more aware and pay more attention to our message.

And that would be a great presentation.

Boiled down, that might mean starting with what the audience wants and needs to know, opening and setting the scene in a surprising way, and then delivering the information that will help them understand what needs to be done and take action – and that’s what many TED speakers do.

Or, expressed as a formula, B to A via Z.

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