In the early days of navigation, when crafting maps, mapmakers would draw dragons in the areas of uncharted waters. The dragons represented the gaps of knowledge. No one knew what was there.
This created two types of explorers.
The first type, saw the dragon as a warning. So, they traveled along the established routes and kept trade going in the safety of what was known. The second type saw the dragon as a challenge. These were the explorers who made new discoveries. Today we call these discoveries, innovations.
In his latest book The Designful Company, Marty Neumeier (author of Zag and Brand Gap) shares “how to build a culture of nonstop innovation.”
In The Designful Company Marty offers advice to solve our “wicked problems.” The type problem that offers “a puzzle so persistent, pervasive, or slippery that it can seem insoluble.”
To fix problems this challenging, Marty warns, “you can’t choose a solution from the ’solution shelf’ as if you were buying a pair of pants from the ready-to-wear rack. In real life, you need to tailor your decision to the unique challenge at hand… you can’t decide your way forward. You have to DESIGN your way forward.”
This “…designing takes place in the uncomfortable gap between vision and reality.” He declares this space, the Dragon Gap: the distance between “what is” and “what could be.”
Mapmakers would mark the mysterious gaps on their charts with cheerful warning such as “There be dragons!”
There be dragons in the vision-reality gap, and the truly creative people are those who are irresistibly drawn to do battle with them.
The key to finding solutions to wicked problems [is the] ability to embrace paradox – a willingness to stay in the dragon gap as long as it takes.
Sailing along the same waters and sharing the same wind delivers a rather “same” experience. Uncharted water allows new discoveries and the chance of finding something remarkable.
How willing is your company to voyage into uncharted waters? Would you consider heading for the Dragon Gap?
If you want to learn more about The Designful Company and Marty’s advice on innovation, check out the stops on the book’s virtual tour. Marty has spent a-blog-a-day answering questions and sharing information about this great book. Here’s the full tour:
- Brand Autopsy, John Moore
- The Marketing Fresh Peel, Chris Wilson
- Idea Sandbox, Paul Williams
- Principled Innovation, Jeff De Cagna
- InnoBlog, Renee Callahan