From Beginner To Innovator In 7 Easy Steps!
I use the following progression to learn new which will eventually lead to me innovating in that new field. You can apply this to anything, including something like an energy therapy system, for example, but it works for everything else - making a new gadget to clean the house with, doing something to transport people that doesn't look like a horseless carriage at last, taking the next necessary developmental step to move NLP along, creating a new Art Nouveau or Bauhaus revolution - well whatever! It all starts somewhere, so here is the first step:
1. Freebie Snarfling.
Which is website searches and free downloads and such; in the olden days it was buying magazines and collecting brochures and attending free intro evenings. As I am a professional, I am aware that the real information is not be found in that way at all because these are usually sales vehicles designed to wet the appetite only. The information that is to be found from it has to be re-constructed, sifted and re-aligned which is difficult if one doesn't have a framework to put it all in.
I use this stage primarily to decide if I will give the system in question my serious attention or, in other words, if I will invest my time and money in learning this properly.
If the answer is yes, I go on to the next step.
2. Books & Intro Products
Now we are beginning to get into the real deal; now we have information that has been organised by someone into some kind of useable (hopefully) order and sequence; this takes time of course and so now we start to pay for the information.
I always consider books as intro products, no matter what type of level of information they contain; for me books are way too 2-dimensional to be able to construct a workable map of the system in my mind.
But this is now a good start; especially once one has read the main 5 - 10 books on a particular system by a variety of authors, an underlying structure and clarity begins to emerge as to what the presuppositions are, the main components and also, the main areas of conflict.
At this stage I would also be dealing now with other forms of intro products, such as intro tape sets, cds and videos. You can tell the intro products by their low price; they will contain some information but not the expensive (valuable) stuff, obviously.
3. Personal Experience
Now I get ready for making the whole thing come to life by finding out how exactly all this theory is being turned into a real happening - I will seek out a practitioner of the system, and preferably one that is as close to the originator/s as possible; if possible, I will make the effort to work with the originator in person.
Sometimes this forces me to take a training with the originator because not all of them still do private sessions although I would prefer not to do that just yet.
I leave the personal experience for this long because I prefer to know enough to be able to appreciate what they are doing which I would not if I didn't.
Next step is to take the trainings in the order and sequence advised. In most fields, there is a progression from basic to more advanced. In fields which have "warring factions" of different organisations and mindsets, I do them all because all the factions leave out some things and it is only in dealing with them all in "set theory" fashion that one gets a true rather than a slanted view of happenings.
This is a very expensive and very time consuming stage in the game and this is why I have to be really, really motivated at the beginning in order to get involved at all.
Right, so now we get into doing this system with real people and to test it.
This is for me a particularly important stage because I get to find out first hand what the challenges are, where the theory is failing, where it is working, and also have the opportunity to compare results of the structure of the system over a varying population.
To start with, I *always* procede exactly as I was taught and as the system says you should. If I did not, how could I know or have any grounds for knowing at all how the system performs under these different circumstances? How could I know what its inherent strength and weaknesses are as it stands? I will during this time override my own ideas, common sense or intuition and test the system as it comes; something I have noticed not that many people do but rather, will right away and before even knowing anything about the system, reject parts of it on some ground and never get to test them, or substitute ideas of their own before they have even learned what might be beneficial (but counter to their old existing ideas!) in the system.
This is an interesting stage and the necessary precedent to:
Now, I will have some idea of the main problems in the system and also its main good points. We don't want to throw out any babies with any bathwater, so I now start gently changing things, here and there, and observing the results.
What works I keep and what doesn't, I discard. This goes on for some considerable time until I have improved the system to the point that I can't think of anything else and have considerable experience with it under many different circumstances.
During this stage, I will also now begin to research the historical foundations of the field, namely where did the originators learn their stuff? Where did they get their ideas from? This is an essential step that many leave out; it puts the teachers teachings into a firm historical context, which might often also already lead to pick up some things their teachers were doing but they did not choose to include in *their* systems, usually for idiosyncratically human reasons, and I might include such lost but highly useful components into the improvement of the current systems.
Please note that whilst you are still improving an existing system, you are NOT innovating. Indeed, you are improving. Many people make the mistake of hurrying this step and hailing what is in essence only an improvement as an "innovation". This is embarrassing to say the least and leads to a plethora of non-systems where someone just "stuck a tail onto it and called it a weasel" - it doesn't really do anything for one's self esteem or one's longer term reputation. If an improvement is honestly declared as such, a lot of acclaim and gratitude can come your way because of course, many are using the current systems and will be very glad of an improvement indeed.
How do you know the difference between an improvement and an innovation?
Well, that would be our final step.
If you change something enough over long enough, it becomes either something different altogether because it has morphed away so far by now that it is unrecognisable from the original and has, somewhere along the line, made a threshold shift (like monkeys and humans, for example); or you simply hit a threshold beyond which the original presuppositions cannot go and no further improvements are possible or become so difficult to implement that the cost of the improvement in time and money outweighs its actual performance possibilities.
That's a bit like insects not being able to evolve to any larger sizes because of the structural problems inherent in having an exo-skeleton. If you want something much bigger than that, then you need to go right back to the drawing board and start again from scratch, with different pre-suppositions altogether, such as having no skeleton at all or putting it on the inside instead, for example.
That is my favourite part of the journey and this is where the true excitement lies for me - the moment when you get to play with the presups and then this incredible "whoosh!" of potentiality ensues that you can take anywhere you want.
You get to make whole new theories and test them; and as you do this, all these amazing new strategies and techniques develop *as if by magic* and just by playing around, trying this and that - it is truly exciting, the wild frontier where you get to play and make the new rules as you go along. That's also the time when you get to name your new innovation anything you want to, because simply there was no such thing as a "horseless carriage" before you made it in your shed and this really *is* the first one ever to trundle down the street.
It is an extraordinary state and feeling when you get there and it is my supposition that you can't get there at all if your aim is public acclaim and fame and fortune. That isn't enough to drive you through the days and nights of endless study, experimentation and many, many failures along the way and indeed, if fame and fortune is all you want, there is no need for any of that. A few good improvements is all that is required or even expected in order to get *that*. For the other, you need to want to know. Above all else.
There we have it.
Doesn't look so difficult - and hey, it's worked itself out into the classic "7 Steps To ...." all by itself.
In practice, this takes quite a bit of time and effort.
No wonder I am so choosy in deciding what I want to get myself involved in!
Hope you enjoyed,
First Written For Meridiantherapy Newsgroup, January 2003