Getting in The Zone as a Group
How do we get into this zone as a group? Where we have the tension, we have the cognitive friction, but we don't murder each other and we don't devolve into organizational silence. Join me, you can close your eyes if you want. I don't have a picture of it. 1902, Dayton Ohio. You're walking down a quaint road, pass an ice cream parlor. It's 1902, it's nice, you know. It's sunny out, birds are chirping. You walk by a bicycle shop. And as you pass by, you hear a sound that you haven't heard all day coming out the windows. It's shouting. Screaming. Things crashing. And you know, you can imagine walking by and be like what is happening in the bicycle shop? And if you worked at that bicycle shop, you would know, as the assistants, the staff did, that this happened all day long, every day. And to the point that it made people nervous. The neighbors were nervous about this. And when they moved the bike shop, from Dayton, Ohio to North Carolina, same thing happened. But the thing that is intere...
sting, is if you walked by this bicycle shop at lunch you would not hear any shouting. It would be kinda happy, peace and quiet. Turns out that the owners of the bicycle shop would, their process when they were working on problems together, the two honors, was they would get in these really heated arguments about whatever it was. And they would just start screaming and fighting and yelling, and then at lunch time, they would take a break. Eat their sandwiches, and then they'd fire up the argument again. But they had to switch sides of the argument. This was their rule. After lunch this guy had to argue this side, and vice versa. And it still, like the assistants said you know they sure got really hot but they never killed each other but we thought maybe they would at some point. Doesn't sound like the optimal environment that you wanna work in, you know. You guys are CreativeLive, I don't know if that's something that you want here in this building, but most of us don't want that hostile work environment of fighting and screaming when we're working on problems. But you'll forgive them for this process when you find out that this was the Wright brothers. The two guys that invented the airplane before anyone else did. This was their process. And part of it, I think what made it work is they were brothers so they knew that they could maybe scream and they would still be brothers. And that was okay. They weren't afraid of sort of being kicked out of the family. But what they did, whether they recognized it or not, they used this little technique to put themselves into this zone of possibility where innovation lived. So they would actually escalate, when they would have a debate about some little component, it purposely escalated. So it got really hot. Because they wanted to fight as much as they could. They wanted to stoke that friction. But then at a certain point when it potentially got personal, you know when Orville was gonna murder Wilbur, that's when they said alright, we gotta switch sides of the argument. They forced themselves to take different sides so they could kind of get these different perspectives on the problem. But they knew at a certain point, they were gonna get in a fist fight and that wasn't gonna be productive. And so they had to suck things back into that zone of friction. Switching sides of the argument, that bait and switch thing forced them to let go of their personal need to be right. Their ego, you know when we talk about the history of Hip Hop, people got murdered when things got personal. It was no longer about music. Right? And when it was about making more money, or you know, defeating the enemy. If the Wright brothers arguments turned into something where it was about making Wilbur feel like shit, then that was not gonna help them invent the airplane. So switching sides forced them to do that but it also allowed them to play with different perspectives, different lenses on this problem. Even though, and they recognized this, they were brothers, they grew up similarly. They're both engineers. They had a lot of shared things in their brain about things. They had different personalities which is important. You know one was cerebral and more quiet, and the other was more impetuous. But they knew that they were gonna need to have their ideas do battle. So they stoked this and this is how they invented the airplane. My favorite part of this, I think perhaps is the best analogy, is when they were working on the propeller. So they knew that the flying machine needed to move forward somehow. And so they started the argument about how they were gonna do that. And is it gonna be a spinning propeller? And which direction does it spin? How do you keep the plane from flippin' around and all that? They were having these arguments, arguing, arguing, arguing. The result of this fight was they realized there was a third option that they needed two propellers spinning in different directions. In different directions, yeah. And that that was a way to propel the airplane forward without it flipping around and actually keeping it stable. Which is sort of the greatest analogy for this, right? Two propellers spinning in different directions was the literal solution. That's also what we should be looking for when we're trying to get in the zone of possibility.