The Core File: Thoreau, Innovation & Obstacles


Weekly Notes on Work & Organizations

The Quote of the Week

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau

Thought of the Week

The problem with “innovation” as a leading organizational goal, isn’t just semantics. Indeed, many are weary of hearing the word “innovation” and what that word now brings to mind. We could consider dialing the pressure down — and discussing “ideas” vs. “innovation” is one alternative. Taking the time to create language that helps innovation feel approachable, is a wise idea. (Read that discussion here.)

However, there is more much more to this.

Innovation is more likely unachievable because the chemistry is all wrong. More specifically, we ignore the psychological foundations necessary to support innovation is likely of greater importance. For example, innovation self-limits if psychological safety isn’t present. Language can certainly break down some of the barriers, but not all. All the ingredients must be present.

You can explore this ingredient within your own team.

How does your team really feel about risk-taking? Sharing an idea before it is perfected?

These are pretty good indicators of your team’s chances to innovate.

The Strategy: Goal + Obstacle Method.

  • Know that self-efficacy is built by doing.
  • Know that self-efficacy is also built by moving toward goals + solving obstacles.
  • Yes, you should focus on your goal.
  • But, also acknowledge your most pressing distraction or obstacle.
  • Complete one action a day to address both.
  • So — gather two opinions. Read two articles. One for each.
  • Adjust your actions accordingly.


The Core File is a brief, weekly post about work & organizations. It is designed to offer food for thought for your work week.

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