#28: The Art of Possibility
When it comes to thinking, you can't go past Edward de Bono. He revolutionised the way I think a long time ago when I first encountered his 'lateral' thinking. One of the clearest examples of his unique way of viewing a problem was when he was asked to consult on an office building in Paris.
The owners wanted to speed up the elevator. They had been through dozens of architects and engineers to work within the heritage regulations, but no one could think of a way of getting a modern elevator in.
De Bono watched as the office workers stood in the foyer impatiently waiting for the old rickety elevator to arrive. He decided the problem wasn't the speed of the elevator; it was the perception the workers had as they waited in the foyer. This, by the way, was before the advent of mobile phones, aka mobile distractions.
His solution was simple and elegant. Install giant mirrors, so the office staff had something to do while waiting. Of course, these same office workers now play Candy Crush.
According to de Bono, "possibility is at the heart of creativity". To truly understand how to be creative, you must not rule out anything. Everything must be on the table. The current political climate of extreme polarisation means those engaged in the conversations are dialectically opposed. As in, the other side must be wrong because they are on the other side.
Yet, we as a society aren't benefiting from this closed mentality.
A perfect example of this better way of thinking is SpaceX.
In the post Space Shuttle era, NASA outsourced the next generation of space exploration to the private sector. The likes of Boeing began working on prototypes. They iterated designs without the costly expense of actually building anything.
This was the tried and trusted method. Design, test the design, and only after an exhaustive process of checks and balances, proceed.
Elon, being Elon, basically said fuck that. Build, fail, learn, fail again, learn again is how SpaceX won NASA's prized contracts.
With each crash, the team at SpaceX learn learns and iterates. This is how Musk's company has sent more people into space than China.
Think about that for a minute. China's GDP in 2020 was 14.72 trillion USD. According to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Musk has a net worth of $277 billion USD. The two aren't even comparable.
The key to Musk's success is fostering creativity. This applies to Tesla, SpaceX and now, possibly, to Twitter.
Tesla is worth THREE times more than Toyota.
The art of possibility is the ability to keep an open mind for as long as you can. Rule nothing out and stay in the game for as long as you can.
That is the key to Musk's success.