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Not invented here – N.I.H.

January 16, 2008

I have met the enemy and they are us” – my adaptation of the famous quote from Oliver Hazzard Perry.

Like many corporate denizens, I find myself ranting against the perceived narrow mindedness of others when my “new” ideas are not readily accepted.   This resistance to ideas from others can be summed up as “Not invented here”.  If we didn’t think it up, it can’t be the right approach,  is poorly timed,  has been tried before, or just won’t work.    Personally, I find this resistance to fresh ideas very frustrating.  

Yesterday afternoon, I hung up the phone after having successfully penetrated many layers of closed mindedness in others.   The other parties finally grasped the sheer brilliance of my suggestion and were at last ready to consider how they could implement it.  Why had this been so difficult I wondered?  Were others deliberately obtuse because they didn’t think this up?  They didn’t “invent” the idea “here”, wherever “here” happened to be for them?   Perhaps it is another facet of the ossification that begins to affect us all when we do things the same way for too long.  We begin to erect mental barriers to change.  Our variables become constants, our guidelines become rules and then dogma, to which we cling with blind tenacity.

I savored the moment of success, having broken through all of  that.   Imagine my horror just several short hours later when I  realized that I am guilty of the very same thing – NIH.  I heard about some new tools and a new approach being proposed that could affect the way I do part of my job.   

Rather than being open, and expressing interest and eagerness to hear new ideas, I began to resist.   I didn’t wait to hear the facts, I already had plenty of assumptions and conjecture with which to form my position.   The people bringing forth the idea were from another part of the business, and couldn’t know the right thing to do.   Clearly, they must have a personal agenda.  This just won’t work – we’ve tried it before.   Wow.  

In the span of just a couple hours I became the very enemy of progress that I wrestle with daily.     I don’t have a way yet to proof myself against these kinds of personal failures, but going forward I will  endeavor to pause and listen for the opportunities before I fold my arms, dig in my heels, and become the very impediment that I despise.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 16, 2008 2:53 pm

    Let me know when you find the cure for NIH.

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