2020 Planning: Keep an Open Mind

Most businesses are currently in the thick of planning for 2020 and with that comes a host of challenges not only about direction and strategy, but challenges on a more personal level. We can reflect on the past and learn from it, but we shouldn’t let it cloud our vision for the future.

A recent assignment I gave students in my graduate creative process course reminded me of the struggle between past and future. The task was to listen to a podcast or radio station every day for a week that they would not normally listen to and write about the experience. Two things about the results stood out 1) most of my students didn’t like country music, 2) there was a pattern of people going into the assignment with an expectation that they were not going to like something different and then using the experience to confirm their belief.

My students weren’t alone having a previous experience or perception influence their belief going into the assignment. I’m sure most of us have experienced this at one time or another, and it made me question how often we do that and how truly open are we to the possibility that our preconceived notions could be wrong? How open are we to change?

We have a wide variety of experiences and circumstances stored in our memory and in most cases that helps us navigate the world more efficiently and safely. While this can help us as we plan for the future, it can also hinder our efforts to be more innovative and take more risks.

Sometimes we can know too much about a given subject or situation and automatically discount new ideas and possibilities. We’re not always as open-minded because we’ve already predicted the outcome based on prior experience and information.

As you plan for 2020, I encourage you to be mindful that the biggest barriers to new ideas and creativity may be very personal. Being aware of those barriers and breaking them down by being open to possibilities, you may find more opportunities for innovation coming your way.