Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on August 25, 2014
How many times have you approached a task or problem the same way that you always have? Did you ever challenge yourself to think that an alternate, breakthrough approach may exist? If not, these are missed opportunities to break paradigms, which are traditional ways of thinking about things. When you break paradigms you can make step-change improvements, advance the state of the art, and create competitive advantage. Effective leaders are always encouraging their teams to break their paradigms, and they lead the way.
Breaking paradigms and thinking “out of the box” is crucial for achieving breakthrough results. As a business unit general manager, I was taught this lesson by the CEO of our company, who challenged the design of a micro-plant my business unit was trying to economically justify. The return on investment was below the hurdle rate for this type of project. Strategically, we wanted to build the plant because it would open up a new geography in a growing market for the company, but we needed a higher return on investment to get the board’s approval. We didn’t want to justify the plant only on a strategic basis, but on an economic basis as well.