The Outsider Advantage: Why Not Knowing What You Don’t Know Could Give You an Edge

Any student of innovation would affirm that new ideas often surface at the fringe. While this is generally true in any industry, it is even more so for established and professionalized fields of study. If you can get a terminal degree in a field of study and join a professional society dedicated to promoting the latest ideas in that field, you can be sure there are a set of assumptions that form invisible but powerful thought boundaries limiting innovation.

One of the simplest definitions of organizational culture is the shared understanding of how we do things around here. Over time organizations in the same industry create a similar shared understanding that is often described as a set of best practices. There is nothing inherently wrong with this kind of benchmarking. In fact it can be very helpful for organizations seeking the incremental upward climb toward the top of the industry.

But benchmarking around best practices is only possible where once innovative ideas have been adopted and implemented by a sufficient number of organizations to establish agreed upon standards of excellence. Over time they contribute to the industry-wide group think about how we do things and what we should expect in return.

This process is very helpful for refining existing methodologies but it can work against the nurturing of disruptive ideas, which is why they often come from the fringe, outside the gravitational pull of insider group think. In this month’s vlog, Steve Moore shares when it comes to innovation there is an Outsider Advantage. Sometimes, not knowing what you don’t know can actually give you an edge.

A streamlined version of last month’s vlog, Highlights From STAND – 2013 Mission Leaders Conference, is now available in the archives without the What’s Happening at Missio Nexus intro or the closing comments.

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