Friday, September 20, 2013


The word "unthinkable" can usually conjure up sinister, ugly or even devastating images.

It is maybe this very reaction though, that allows us to miss or inadvertently avoid the true possibilities in life.

When we are out there continually trying to strategise the next step, idea or opportunity, how often do we include the most unthinkable in those thoughts?

If we take an example of two fields. One is dry and arid. The other is fertile and green. If we were asked to chose between the two our first reaction would be to consider it "unthinkable" to chose the dry arid pasture. Why? Because several things are at play here.

Firstly, we put limits on things. secondly we put limits on ourselves, and thirdly we allow ourselves to be limited by other peoples judgement and perceptions who only see the possibilities in what is already primed. We see the investment required on the surface as being beyond its value, we see the effort on our part as being beyond our understanding or competence, and we don't want to appear foolish.

If the dry field was twice the size of the green field would it make a difference? What if you owned the green field and were offered a swap? For many it would still be unthinkable, even though the difference in the fields was only opening a sluice gate.

This isn't always the case of course as there may be a significant reason why there is a problem with the pasture however, a dry field is only be that way because no one has invested in it, and are we only seeing it for use as a pasture?

What drives people to do "unthinkable" things then? Taking them from the "ordinary" to the "extraordinary".

For some its desperation, for others its the realisation that many things are possible because they have tried them before. and survived. Others simply see what others miss.

Whilst we shy away from the unthinkable many of them are realising themselves every day, either naturally or by others, with or without our conscious involvement?

If we look back over history or even our own life how many things can you identify which years prior to them coming about or existing you simply thought "unthinkable"? Watching TV on your wrist? You think thats normal now but not in 1960.

The GFC was unthinkable to most right up until the day it happened, and so was 9/11.

So how do we go about our planning and strategies for the future. What are the conversations we are having with our people. Are we avoiding the "unthinkable". Do we keep it to the foreseeable horizon because anything else is simply too much!

It might mean completely turning the current arrangements on their head. It could mean partnering with your enemy. It could mean stretching out in unknown territory or it could even mean closing down. What! Now that is unthinkable, isn't it? However, trying "unthinkable" things can be the release of things "extraordinary".

If you travel in most third world or even many developed countries there are those people for which it is still "unthinkable" that they could be cured, or get a job or live in a house, or drive a car. So its not just the future that might be unthinkable. Its a present condition for many, they just cant see it or haven't experienced any other way. Many communities have no perception that there could be anything different than their current condition. Maybe our unthinkable thing is doing something unthinkable for someone else.

Unless we are prepared to think the unthinkable we will never hear the warning signs of change or see the possibilities. We won't hear the ideas being generated by our people. and we won't see the over the current horizon. We will stay in the same place we have always been. In the ordinary.

Those that have developed, built, led, discovered and changed the world through history have asked the question "what if".

Why not start by trying something unthinkable. You may startle some, but you will definitely stimulate others. One of those might be yourself.

If the most "unthinkable" things of the past have already happened, then maybe the most unthinkable thing today will have already happened, been produced, or come about tomorrow. Where will you be?

Are you the change that brings about the "unthinkable" for someone else?
What is the most "unthinkable" approach?

Whats your strategy?
Is it based on principles that will encompass unthinkable change?

Are you ready to embrace it?

What will be lost if you don't?