Do you ever wonder why cars aren’t called “horseless carriages” anymore? Today’s cars are just as horseless as they were a century ago. Horselessness is standard equipment on most new and late models, both foreign and domestic.

Framing the question this way may seem a bit absurd; yet, it’s a playful reminder that innovation does not emerge out of nothing. New innovations evolve from historical, iterative processes. The automobile developed out of, and in opposition to, concepts associated with the horse and carriage. This was the familiar frame of reference when the automobile first emerged. Early automobiles extended and adapted the accustomed 19th century understanding of locomotion.

However, long after the automobile had made the horse and carriage obsolete and the association had faded, the concepts of each still defined one another; this synthesis is still present today. Traces of the horse and carriage are found in terms like “horsepower” and in the names of classic cars like the Mustang, Colt, and Bronco. Consider the form of a car’s design. You can see how four legs evolved into four wheels and headlights into the eyes of our metal beasts of burden. The vestiges of formative features still affect how we make sense of the built environment and our material culture, even if the original antecedent has long been forgotten.

Often, when searching for a new way to understand a familiar idea, we look for its opposite. By doing this, we create a spectrum of possibilities between what it is and what it is not. This strategy is somewhat similar to what is often referred to as the Hegelian Dialectic, although Hegel himself probably never used this term, or its familiar formula: Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis:

  • Thesis is a proposition about a prevalent paradigm; e.g. a horse and carriage;
  • Antithesis is a counter proposition that opposes or negates the Thesis; e.g. the first generation of automobiles called “horseless carriages”;
  • Synthesis emerges from the tension between the Thesis and the Antithesis, blending the opposing ideas without fully negating either of them completely; e.g. our modern understanding of the car.

A creative, innovative mind also seeks to move beyond the given categories of thought established by binary either/or frameworks (such as the Hegelian model just described). This is still a move towards synthesis, but it includes opposing concepts that are internal to that binary framework and to ideas outside of it. If you’re a visual thinker, you can think of the internal concepts as a “vertical” axis and the external concepts as a “horizontal” axis.

Lateral thinking, the ability to move horizontally across different categories of thought, often manifests itself as a synthesis between seemingly incongruent ideas; think of Roger Martin’s classic, Opposable Minds.

Let’s extend the horselessness example to imagine how horizontal moves across categories can play out. Beyond the familiar four-wheeled vehicle, which may have evolved in response to animal anatomy, we can imagine other categories of vehicles. We might imagine a vehicle with three wheels or five wheels or no wheels at all. But why stop there? We can imagine even more divergent, lateral moves across other categories as we consider vehicles that fly or hover. Once upon a time legs became wheels, which eventually took on a variety of divergent configurations, so why can’t wheels become something else entirely?

Consider the astonishing fact that within about 60 years we went from Kitty Hawk to Apollo 11, from flying just a few feet above the earth’s surface to traveling the 234,000 miles to the moon. Flying vehicles went from wings to wingless, from within the earth’s atmosphere to outside of it in a single lifetime. This is just one example of how lateral thinking and quick iteration can produce astonishing results in a relatively short amount of time. Students at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design had the opportunity to explore this principle at the 2012 Better World By Design Conference, where they iteratively designed, constructed, and tested paper airplanes. They extended familiar categories of the paper airplane to include designs inspired by frisbees, helicopters, and birds. Within about an hour, participants had completely reimagined the paper airplane, exploring categories that went well beyond their initial conceptions about what a paper airplane was and could be.

6a00e008d957708834019affc61a30970b-300x187The creative process is just that: a process. Recognizing value that others have missed doesn’t require preternatural clairvoyance. A well-honed creative process enables us to intuitively recognize patterns and use those insights to make inductive predictions about divergent ideas, both vertically within categories, and horizontally across categories. By understanding the genealogy of innovation within a given category, we can imagine what might come next.

We need to break out of thinking that is solely based on what we know, what we assume, and what we’ve experienced. Many of us are so entrenched in our industries that we don’t know how to think laterally or horizontally. We usually go a mile deep but only an inch wide. We haven’t given our people and ourselves the time and opportunities to explore other industries, cultures designs, ways of being and doing, and other “adjacent possibilities.”

If you want to take your “car” far beyond horses, even to the moon perhaps, you and your team need to understand the genealogy of innovation, of how you got to where you are, and look outside of that familiar world to see where you can go.

“If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research.”

Albert Einstein

What is a genuine experiment?

A true experiment is blind. It is when you try something not because you know what will happen but in order to see what will happen. These are two entirely different strategies. One is inside-the-square and the other is outside-the-square.

My view of the lack of real experimentation in selling and business has been because of a dominant preference for short term gains. So, there is not such a strong tradition for genuine blind experimentation as there is in science.

The Jorge Way:

The Sayings of the Great Transformationist!

Jorge (haw-hay) Bergoglio is CEO of the world’s biggest and oldest multi-national, Vatican Inc.

He’s transforming his enterprise in a classic case-study of leadership and engagement in action.

Here’s a primer of his strategic style …


Ten Examples of Leadership for Enlightened CEOs

(CLICK on each example for sources and background)


Example #1 – Smell like your flock!

Choose leaders who smell like their flock.

Appoint managers who live with their employees.

Select salespeople who know their customers.

Set an example.

Example #2 – Don’t be isolated!

Don’t hide in your mansion.

Be in daily contact with ordinary people.

Eat with your employees.

Coffee with your customers.

Set an example.

Example #3 – Get out of the palace!

Escape from the executive suite.

Get out of the boardroom.

Leave the office.

Get off the internet.

Go and talk to your employees.

Go and chat with your customers.

Do it yourself.

Set an example.

Example #4 – Get out of the limo!

Leave the Mercedez behind.

Drive around in your Ford.

Forget the jet.

Ride the subway.

Set an example.

Example #5 – Make a mess!

Tell your people to get out in the streets and make a mess.

Don’t be afraid to spread the word.

Create bottom-up trouble in the branch offices.

Get closer to the people.

Get rid of top-down managementism.

Stop the meetings, meetings, meetings.

Get out!

Do it yourself.

Do it every day.

Set an example.

Example #6 – Hello, it’s Jorge!

Escape from uncheck.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call your employees.

Call your customers.

Do it yourself.

Do it every day.

Set an example.

Example #7 – Tu not lei.

Be informal not just polite.

Leave pomp and ego behind.

Eschew titles.

Promote intimacy.

Set an example.

Example #8 – Get that thing down!

Discourage celebrity.

Avoid media for media sake.

Get real.

Set an example.

Example #9 – Who am I to judge?

Be inclusive not judgmental.

Take off your black hat.

Think outside the square.

Offer niceness.

Forgive and forget.

Set an example.

Example #10 – Benedict, my mentor.

Consult your mentor.

Value Grey Hat thinking.

Think outside the square.

Seek good advice.

Value wisdom.

Set an example.


NewSell is the first new strategy for selling in 50 years!

- Dr George Gallup of The Gallup Poll




Click here to request your own copy of the ebook:

“WOMBAT Selling: How to sell by Word of Mouth”


Newsell is based on the selling switch: uncheck2check.

uncheck2check was researched and developed by Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson as part of his PhD in customer science, under the mentorship of Dr George Gallup, founder of The Gallup Poll. Dr Gallup said, “Newsell is the first new strategy for selling in 50 years!”


There are many customer satisfaction surveys conducted by thousands of companies each year. The main problem is that they prove nothing.

For example the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is widely used to predict corporate growth by asking this question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?

However the NPS provides no causal connection to value-creation or business growth and therefore is no more able to do this than other customer satisfaction surveys. This is a fact of statistical science.

The reason is because NPS asks the wrong question. A much better question for measuring value-creation is the WOMBAT SCORE.


Have you told anyone yet through word of mouth
about your satisfied customer experience with us?

Those who respond with a YES are called WOMBATS and have already demonstrated value-creating behaviours, such as buying more, remaining customers for longer, and (most importantly) replicating other WOMBATS who also replicate.


WOMBAT SCORE does provide the causal link of proof of value. WOMBAT SCORE is a primary tool of WOMBAT Leaders. There are two WOMBAT SCORE leadership objectives:

  1. The first objective is zero2one.
  2. The second objective is one2ten.




WOMBAT SELLING: How to sell by Word of Mouth