Contribute to Wisdom – A Leadership Goal for Innovation

Innovation, Leadership Comments Off on Contribute to Wisdom – A Leadership Goal for Innovation

Is wisdom being constrained by dogma?

Dogma is a set of principles laid down by an authority as true. With dogma the debate over truthfulness has long since passed and the truth of the principles are not argued and taken as a given. The ideas are accepted. Dogma is foundational to what we believe and disputing dogma crumbles the ideology it supports.

Dogma relates to things like how high the sky is, the shape of earth, what people consider decent, and what’s possible. It’s historically notable when dogma is changed. Think flat earth vs. round earth.

Dogma serves us. To get through the day we lean on dogma as a shortcut that allows us to move to the next step.

Understanding the dogma in place is necessary to function at a higher level. For example, a person can’t make a breakthrough in physics unless they understand the journey to this point in the body of knowledge and master the base theories. How would they know if they were treading on new ground?

For innovation the purpose of understanding the basis of dogma is to supersede it.

The view must change

If the problem is big enough dogma is susceptible to rethinking even though that rethinking is not in any way smooth.

For more than 100 years the dome on the Florence Cathedral sat unfinished. You see, existing architectural dogma did not allow the ability to support a dome. It couldn’t be done.

Filippo Brunelleschi used his experience as a goldsmith, his study of Roman and Byzantine styles and buildings like the Pantheon, and combined it with training in mathematics. Pippo as he was called entered a contest for the commission to build what became the famous Duomo.

This shift of view and shattering of current architectural dogma allowed Brunnelleschi to ultimately win the competition.

The road is rough

Pippo was referred to as a madman because he was so passionate defending his approach and arguing with his critics. Even after winning the commission, the powers that be made it a collaborative effort to hedge their bets. He ultimately won out when he proved that in fact his approach, though totally novel was the only way. Much perseverance was displayed.

The overriding skill is communication in that you must help people understand your vision. Remember, every foundation provided by dogma is being shattered. You must maintain stability while causing disruption. Confidence and courage are needed for this type of fundamental change.

You must build tools

When massive shift innovation happens, realize you likely will have to invent tools to do the job or even to give you the chance of success. Brunelleschi had to get massive slabs of marble hundreds of feet in the air. Innovation before he could even get to the main innovation.

What are the steps to your innovation?


Thus far we’ve talked of shattering dogma and massive innovation. As a leader you are uniquely capable of facilitating this type of innovation. Wisdom is experience and knowledge coming together with sound judgment.

Only with wisdom can you and your team work through the minefield of challenging the status quo.

Focus on building wisdom, critically evaluate dogma, and build great things.


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On July 26, 2016
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