The Core File: Thoreau, Innovation & Obstacles


“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

The problem with “innovation” as a leading organizational goal isn’t only semantics. Indeed, many are weary of the mention and what that word now brings to mind. We should also consider dialing the pressure down — and redirecting the emphasis toward ideas vs. innovation. Taking the time to create language that helps innovation feel  more approachable, seems a wise idea. (Read that discussion here.)

However, there is more much more to this.

Innovation can be unachievable because the chemistry isn’t fully developed. More specifically, we ignore the psychological foundations necessary to support innovation. For example, innovation self-limits if psychological safety isn’t present. 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 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.

To ensure you don’t miss an installment — subscribe by email on the right sidebar.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s