Two Blades of a Kayak Paddle

By our Design Partner, Greg Hart (December 2020)

Have you ever been in a brainstorming session where an idea gets thrown out there and then that guy - and it is usually although not exclusively a guy - starts breaking down all the reasons why it will never work? Me too. It is like trying to paddle a kayak by putting both blades of the paddle in the water at the same time. You bruise your fingers and you go nowhere.

In sympathy for ‘that guy,’ there is a danger in exercises of endless creativity, even beyond the obvious risk of a global Post-It notes shortage. It would be like only ever putting the left paddle blade in the water over and over again. You’ll get unbalanced muscle development leading to increased injury risk while only going around in circles.

The same risk exists if we engage in continuous critical thinking - breaking down ideas and applying standards - without fresh ideas being fed into the process. The kayak just circles in the opposite direction. And we might fall in.

The smooth iterating loop of alternating creative and critical thinking produces velocity - speed in the desired direction - while making the paddler balanced and resistant to injury. Who doesn’t want that? Like most everything, discipline and practice get us to where we want to go. That means, both blades in the water at the right time to make meaningful change happen.