Whenever Possible Follow the Road More Traveled

“Keep on the outlook for novel and interesting ideas that others have used successfully. Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you are currently working on.”

I was surprised when I first read this quote from Thomas Edison. Yes the same Thomas Edison that is the holder of 1,093 United States patents and the inventor of the phonograph and the incandescent light bulb among many other inventions.  Leaders are many times told to blaze their own trail; which is sometimes the right answer, but sometimes not.

In my many years of business I discovered that most people are genuinely convinced that their situations are so unique and so difficult that no one has faced quite the same circumstances before, let alone found a way to solve them.  In some way I think it is a bit of pride in the human condition that makes people want a difficult solution for their difficult problems.  But it doesn’t need to be difficult.  Often, eighty percent of a problem has been solved before, the other twenty percent is taking the initiative to accept the solution given to you and implement it.

Sometimes, we don’t need a better mousetrap; we just need to understand how to use the ones that are already out there.