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From the author of I Am Thinking

I Am Thinking

I have been blessed with a large family that currently consists of eight children and two grandchildren. I was recently at an arts-and-crafts store with my five-year-old granddaughter. She knew that she could pick out three—and only three—craft items just for her. After finding the third item, she was quite excited and seemingly satisfied. Then, spying a special "princess" sticker sheet out of the corner of her eye, she became quiet, knowing that my "only three" limit would make it impossible for her to have this very special item. After a moment of consideration, she looked carefully at me (as if I were slow-witted and might not understand her), placed her palms together in a contemplative manner, and stated: "I have thought, and I think four would be more right than three." I concurred with her immediately.

I know that many readers will question why I so readily allowed my granddaughter to adjust her purchase limit from three to four items. Normally, I would have held my ground. But she didn't argue or cry or attempt to intimidate me. (Kids, especially young kids, do have amazing powers of persuasion, many of them extremely LOUD.) She didn't even question my ability to make such world-shattering decisions as "only three." She analyzed the same situation I had, and with all the courtliness of a young princess explained that four would be "more right" than three. Frankly, I had no choice but to agree with her logic: After all, why is my choice of three a "more right" number than four? We both looked at the information available to us, and we both reached a seemingly arbitrary conclusion. To her, four really was "more right" than three.

But far more important reasons drove me to agree with her. She was attempting to visualize the box in which I was standing, and to find a way to innovate me out of that box into a solution that fit her view of the world. She didn't argue that she deserved more. She didn't insist that the sticker sheet was only 89 cents. She knew, even at five years of age, that I was making an arbitrary decision based on my view of that day's events and on the store where we were standing.

I know, I know. She's only five. But you have to know my granddaughter. This wasn't random musing. She analyzed, understood, and stated what was obvious to her. If only we could get that same level of "unvarnished truth" from our employees!

If I had tried to explain to her all the random choices and assumptions I had used to come up with my limit of three, I would be creating the very box that I constantly try to destroy: the box that limits our ability to innovate new solutions. My granddaughter deserved better than that. And so do our employees.

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