“Consistency” is the Hobgoblin of Little Minds….


As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his famous 1841 essay on Self Reliance
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day”

Dr. Deming said it in a similar way when challenged to defend why he had changed is views versus a year before; I will never apologize for learning.”

Sadly - in today’s world - instead of never ending learning and innovation - we embrace a world of “DECLARE & DEFEND.”  To change is to show weakness - to be a flip flopper - to not have conviction.

All great successes that I’ve been a part of or observed involved never ending innovation from raw strategic direction - through idea generation and development to market.  And it doesn’t stop there - great leaders pivot and adapt their innovations even after they’ve shipped.  Great leaders know that anything they have created can be made meaningfully smarter.

With Innovation Engineering we have two systems for preventing “the hobgoblin of little minds.”

System 1:  We embrace THINKING in all work - by applying a Plan, Do, Study, Act mindset to even tasks that seem mundane.  Challenging the status quo on minor issues builds the muscle memory required to do it on the big issues.

System 2: We STOP all projects when they enter the Develop Alpha stage and run a RE-CREATE session to boldly challenge our entire innovation - concept - product - packaging - pricing.

Last week I had the honor of working with a team and a company President who embrace never ending innovation.    We spent two days in a Re-Create session challenging every aspect of the branding, products, packaging and concept.  From this bigger and bolder ideas emerged.

Importantly - we didn’t change the strategic mission i.e. the Blue Card in the language of Innovation Engineering.

The bottom line is - unlike most companies where development tends to be the killing zone of compromise (losing 50% or more of value during the process) - in this case the ideas are growing bigger and stronger.

THE SECRET:  The secret to this team being willing to be open to changing and improving their innovations is a new mindset.  Within the team and leadership is a belief that they can do great things.   They have alignment with leadership. And, they have the tools, training and support they need to do great things.

My Challenge to you this week is to take a project that you are working on - and dedicate a couple hours to Re-Creating it.   STOP & THINK - what have you learned?

What’s the right thing to do?  

What should you stop doing?  

How should you change what you’re doing?

Then DO IT

Rock & Roll


The project was recently approved for development

Doug Hall

The Driving Eureka! Newsletter is a compilation of case studies, new techniques, thought provoking insights, an occasional rant, and excerpts from my books 



2007 Eureka Ranch logo_sm
Messages Image(1918687528)
Innovation Engineering


See all