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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

Why, Why Not, Why Don’t We Try

Robert Stevenson Blog - Question Everything

Nobel Laureate and physicist Richard Feynman said that it was no coincidence that virtually all major discoveries in physics were made by those under the age of 25. When he was asked why he concluded, … “you don’t know what you don’t know.” I guess another way you could put it is, when you are unaware of something that supposedly can’t be done … you go at it with a blind determination to see if it CAN be done.

Any time I do a strategic planning session for a company, I always ask them to make sure they have some of their younger talents in the room. If you want fresh, new ideas, I think it is only appropriate to have fresh, new, young employees in the room sharing their ideas. You won’t hear statements from them like, “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” because they’ve never done it. What you will hear are challenging statements like, “Why,”…or…“Why not,”…or…“Why don’t we try”.

I am not saying that the veterans in a company should be “put out to pasture” when it comes to coming up with ideas that will improve it. I think experience is an incredibly powerful resource. Intellectual capital is one of the most valuable assets of any company. What I am saying is don’t discount an idea from a young associate by saying…“What could they know … they are too young to know anything … they haven’t been here long enough to know how we do it at our company.”

In the mid 1800’s the head of the Patent Office in Washington recommended that the Patent Office be closed, because everything that could have been invented had already been invented. That same Patent Office rejected the patent applied for by the Wright Brothers for their flying machine, stating they believed machines that were heavier than air could not fly; someone forgot to tell the Wright Brothers. They just kept asking themselves…“Why”…“Why not,”…“Why don’t we try”, and aren’t we glad they did.

Our young ones have grown up in a world of speed, multi-tasking, constantly changing technology where virtually anything is accessible through the Internet. I don’t care what they don’t know … I want to hear what they want to change, don’t like, think is stupid or is a waste of time. If you want to be successful … then stay curious and keep asking WHY, WHY NOT, WHY DON’T WE TRY.


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