The unexplored territories of innovation: Here be dragons

(Versión en español)

The maps in the Middle Ages represented sea serpents and other mythological creatures in unknown areas, trying to scare the sailors to sail through these (supposedly inhospitable) waters. Hence the origin of the expression Here be dragons. Hic sunt dracones.

Similarly, many companies put too much effort into discouraging the innovative ideas proposed by their employees. They actually encourage coastal navigation: near the coast, without losing sight of it, from one cape to another one, in familiar territory. Here be dragons, they seem to say.

 La Carta Marina es un mapa de Escandinavia de gran tamaño hecho por Olaus Magnus. La leyenda dice: «Un mapa marino y descripción de las tierras nórdicas y de sus maravillas, dibujado cuidadosamente en Venecia en el año 1539 con la generosa ayuda del honorabilísimo Señor Hieronymo Quirino».
La Carta Marina

When someone in the company says

  • This will never work
  • We tried that in the past and failed
  • This has been always this way
  • This cannot be improved
  • Not our business
  • We do not have experience on this.
  • The Return of Investment  cannot be taken for granted
  • We do not have budget
  • I will not be taking risks

he is drawing a huge dragon on the map of unexplored oportunities. It may be lack of courage, or fear of failure. Or even arrogance.

Worst of all. Chances are that there are no dragons but a beautiful, awesome  and amazing blue ocean.

How to travel deep into oceans with dragons

Indeed the waters more appealing for innovating are those in which, as they say, there be dragons. Uncharted waters, where only the brave dare to navigate. And where others (or even yourself) have fallen. But that does not mean you have to abandon. The reward will be great. As they say, a calm sea does not make a good sailor.

And, yes, you first have to convince the high command of the benefits of the travel. And that is the crucial time. We cannot give them a pen and a map to draw as many dragons as they want. You should go prepared to convince them, with all possible questions and answers prepared. Seize your elevator pitch moment to transmit good feelings, that will allow you to go for approval and the means for your particular journey.

Have you seen many dragons drawn on a map lately?

Many thanks for reading and see you in the next post!

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2 comentarios

  1. It is understandable that a company is scared of certain matters. Perhaps the company ran risks in the past, and it failed. There are many possible reasons.
    It also happens in our lives. I think everything depends on your current circumstances and your background.

    But rejecting an innovative idea because of arrogance is not understandable. If we do not accept suggestions, we are losers.

    Kind regards 🙂

    1. Thanks Carolina!

      Innovation is about taking risks. Otherwise it is normal business development. And, yes, arrogance and fair are other (personal, I daresay) reasons to (try to) kill innovation.

      All the best!

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