Probably better to say curiosity starts us down a different path and innovation follows, but assumptions block the path to curiosity.  Grabbing or copying the first best practice or tool to make improvements ends any chance at innovation.  We want to check a problem off the to-do list not have to think about what options we have to solve a problem.

I was reading Alfie Kohn’s website and remembered my Deming days.  He was the first person I had met that challenged my thinking on competition and reward systems.  He reinforced and furthered Dr. Deming’s argument that cooperation and not competition was that better way to go.

Deming and Kohn also made me rethink reward systems and how they drive the wrong behavior.  John Seddon talks about how rewards and targets become the defacto purpose of an organization – meaning that management and worker pursuits of targets and rewards take our eyes off creating value for customers.  Further, the system we work in and how well it is designed is by far the biggest influence on organizational performance.

The best way to ask people to begin is to set aside the old assumption that we have learned in childhood, experience, schools and what others have told us are true.  This is why going to the work is so important rather than relying on IT-generated reports or the biggest mouth in a meeting.  You can learn new truths when you do and banish myths at the same time.

This brings new and better thinking to problems.  This is called innovation.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for  Learn more about the Vanguard Method for service organizations.  Reach him on Twitter at LinkedIn at