The Meyer Group - Blog
Thursday, 14 February 2019 02:59

Not Invented Here vs Not Invented Yet

Saving Your 2019 Initiatives

It’s happening all over. 2019 initiatives are dying. If this is happening to you, you aren’t alone. Can you save one or more of yours?

We often ask people to accept that change is good. In practice it works more like:

            - Change is good when I suggest it,

            - Change is bad when someone suggests it for me.

Take this as Peter’s change axiom. If everyone felt as good about change as you might, this would be easy. But if everyone was a good at this as you, well they would all have your job wouldn’t they?

How key people on your team view change can be the rock on which you build this year. Or it can be the rock on which new initiatives crash and sink.


Crash: The Assumption of Limited

People might offer a whole list of excuses of why a new idea can’t work. People don’t usually say that they can’t do something because it was Not Invented Here (NIH.) What’s the reason beneath those excuses? Usually a sense of being limited.

This is not something to be vilified. Almost all of us get some early training in the assumption that we are limited. Many of us keep that sense of ourselves into our work years. It impedes personal growth, and it also impedes business growth.

When you get resistance to your 2019 program, it might be because the idea actually sucks. It might also be because people feel limited and vulnerable to change that they did not sponsor. They don’t feel ownership. To you it feels a lot like Not Invented Here.


Building: The Assumption of Growth

Growing revenue, people, and time all work from a different assumption: That growth is not only possible, it’s our natural state. Peter’s second axiom is that people love progress when they are the ones making it happen.

One of the underlying theses of my postings and articles is that the people who successfully grow businesses live and express an assumption of growth. It is a very common denominator of leaders in growth businesses.

Here’s a story that shows how this starts.

Julie builds a house out of blocks in her pre-kindergarten play time. She does this happily, with a sense of the power of making.  Andy comes over, still not fully sure on his feet, and knocks the house down. He’s feeling and showing the power to stop something.

The next day Julie builds it again. Andy cheerfully knocks it back into individual blocks.

This same pattern continues for days. Andy’s parents say that boys will be boys. Julie’s parents congratulate her on her art. Each day Julie and Andy get the pleasure of expressing their power.

This happens at all ages, doesn’t it? Andy’s role in this is easy. No creativity is required and he gets to express his power. Does this resonate with your own corporate experience? It feels like Not Invented Here.

Julie takes a different role. For companies that should grow, this is a great example. Many initiatives fall apart at least once on the way to success. What keeps them going is the expression of the sense of growth. If you will, an attitude of Not Invented Yet.

Eventually, Julie stops Andy. How can she do that as an adult in your business? Perhaps the best answer is to help Andy build his own house with blocks. What if she is tempted to bring it down with a well placed blow? Best to not do that. If Andy gets a taste for construction as well as destructing he may become an ally.

Does that mean that Andy has to entirely change? No, like all of us Andy has both limit and growth assumptions in his sense of self. It is a choice that he, and only he, can make. Julie just wants to help him choose growth this time. As a colleague her work is to help Andy try growth.


Improving the Chances of Change’s Success

Daryl Conner and I wrote an article summarizing some of the best real world strategies for change: Lessons From the Real World of Major Business Initiatives ( The strategies are important. The underlying assumption is just as critical.

What if you assume that every person on whom you rely has a mix of a sense of limitation and a sense of growth? If they have both, you can treat them as Julie might treat Andy.

What does that mean? If you sense a Not Invented Here response, you can:

- Help others to see how they have grown, and connect to that feeling of growth.

- Help others sense that they can manage this, that it is within their current limits.

This is not about what they might build. This is about whether they feel that they can build it. You and Julie are supporting a sense of ability, not an outcome.

One other alternative? You can stop your initiative. Sometimes that is the exact right choice. You always have to allow for the possibility that your idea sucks.


A_ Not Invented Yet Team

There are myriad techniques to bring a team together to work to be Not Invented Yet team individuals. (Again, check out the Conner/Meyer article noted above.) All work from one assumption, that we are not vulnerable to what we invent. The best way to help others start there may be when we demonstrate exactly that. For all projects, large and small, we can improve our growth by assuming that it is natural and acting that way.

Einstein said that “Failure is success in progress.” The message isn’t to fail again. It is to assume that progress is the natural state. To assume that we are not automatically limited. That is an assumption that we can only make for ourselves as individuals. The good news is that each of us has gotten here, we have lived that assumption for at least a little while. If you want a Not Invented Yet team, help each member get in touch with that.