The other day I attended a leadership event at our local hospital. One of the speakers asked us “How many days of the week start with the letter T?”
The obvious answer is of course two, Tuesday and Thursday – but he said there’s another answer someone once gave him during a workshop, which is also correct: Tuesday, Thursday, today and tomorrow.
The point he made was that together people often solve problems in ways they wouldn’t have thought of on their own. Transformational ideas and break-through inventions are usually incremental processes that occur when different minds work together or build on each other’s work.
Steve Job’s iPod was based on existing mp3-players. Thomas Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb but improved it. The invention of the automobile and the airplane was the work of many; Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers just refined the ideas.
It never ceases to amaze me how people in a group – when the circumstances are right – develop creative ideas to solve challenging problems.
That evening, during dinner, I asked my children ‘Who knows how many days of the week start with T?” We had a bit of a discussion as a family until my 10-year old daughter said, “Seven days dad, because I always start my day with a tea.”