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Imagination is more important than knowledge

Albert Einstein said in an interview that “Imagination is much more important than knowledge. For knowledge has its limits, while imagination can reach as far as it will go to stimulate and drive development.”

In the three previous weekly newsletters, I talked about different styles of governance and leadership that we can see both across the world at large, but also in our own organisations. You don’t have to be a dictator of a country to prefer to rule by command structure. Unfortunately, it also happens in departments, administrations and companies.

In last week’s newsletter, I addressed the thoughts on NBD, Network Based Defence. The thinking within the NBD, as I wrote, is not just for the Armed Forces. It is based on a digital platform that enables distributed leadership, self-managing teams and trust-based governance and management. It works just as well in companies and organisations.

But, do you see it in front of you? What would it look like at your place?

What will you do with the knowledge?

This is where Albert Einstein’s quote comes in. It is more important to have imagination than knowledge. Because with imagination we can imagine scenarios in our lives and our activities that we do not yet have the knowledge for. And I would like to add that without imagination, we don’t know what to do with all the knowledge.

Much of my life is spent training people to work on improving their lives in their businesses. There is a lot of “first you do this, and then you do this” and so on in order to achieve concrete success with the improvement work. But in addition, it is also to enthuse people to actually see what this knowledge can be used for.

It is important that you can see what could be improved. It’s also important that you can dream about what the business could really look like when it’s as good as you want it to be.

Then you need to be able to communicate your vision to colleagues. Otherwise, you’re standing there with dreams, but your colleagues don’t see them. And they may have their own dreams, which they don’t communicate to you either. Nothing concrete comes of it all.

And it is difficult to communicate dreams and thoughts. That’s why filmmakers describe their dreams and thoughts using story boarding. It is a way of illustrating how the story unfolds through the film.

The same can be done for a business, as the value creation of the business is also a flow. In addition, there is a foundation on which everything stands, but people’s joy, enthusiasm and energy. It also needs to be illustrated.

What does it look like for you?

But first you need to have your picture ready. What would it look like in your business?

  • What would it look like when all your customers (whatever you call them) are super-satisfied with the service you provide?
  • What would it look like when you’ve not only mapped out what the processes look like today, but you’ve taken the full step and designed them the way you want them to work?
  • Furthermore, what would it look like if you detailed your processes to such a level that they actually contribute to the work of your employees?
  • And what would it look like when you describe them at that level so that discussions about crucial details come to light? This is in contrast to keeping it so crude that everyone can just nod and agree.
  • What would it look like when you have all your processes designed and connected in a well-functioning business structure?
  • What would it look like when you build executable processes that guide you collectively in your value creation? As opposed to only having the description of the process as a “suggestion” or “recommendation” available on the web or in a folder.
  • And what would it look like when you have a dashboard for all processes so that you can instantly measure and monitor them, as well as see a consolidated picture of parts and the whole operation?

What would this do for you?

That would mean:

  • That you become more efficient in your work, where the work you put in also matters?
  • That you reduce your quality gap costs, where you spend time and money correcting errors that wouldn’t need to exist if you got it right in the first place?
  • That you increase job satisfaction and reduce sick leave, where people enjoy their workplace and get energy from being there?
  • That you have leaders instead of managers?
  • That these leaders can follow up on what’s important instead of chasing after things that others could address, and of course don’t have to address issues that shouldn’t even exist?
  • That all employees know what to do, when to do it and that they do it together as a big “we” instead of “me, we and them”?

You know your business best. What is your dream for your business? What is your dream for your work situation, from a holistic perspective and how you create value for those you serve?

With your dreams, the work begins

Your improvement work starts with your dreams. Next comes the need for knowledge. There is training available for acquiring this knowledge, including at Clean Stream. But the dreams you have to make yourself. I can give you ideas and inspire you, but it’s your dreams that you should be working to achieve.

Take the opportunity to sit down in a sunny spot, bring a pad and pen, and think in your mind what an improved business really looks like. Write down your thoughts and bring them into your improvement work.

Feel free to feed back what it is you see for yourselves. What are your dreams?

If you then need help shaping your strategy and improvement efforts, you know that I and we are here to help you. See below for more information.

In the meantime, I continue my mission to inspire you and others to pursue improvement, and to teach you exactly how to get there.