Monday, 30 April 2012

Turning disruption into innovation

Have you ever wondered why human beings cannot perceive opportunities in their immediate surroundings? For years, I have been taking the same route to work. I was absolutely convinced that it was the most efficient way to get to the office. I was even proud that the drive took me only 40 minutes every morning.

Two weeks ago, local authorities happened to decide to begin works simultaneously on two roads in my area. Those two roads were precisely my main route and my back-up route to get to the office. The road works created a gigantic traffic jam, which most drivers took more or less philosophically.

On the first day, I got out of the main road and tried to circumvent the works by driving through a village whose existence I had barely noticed until that time. I got lost a few times, but I got to the office in about 50 minutes. Not bad, considering the circumstances.

The following morning, I explored the possibility of driving through another village, which allowed me to reduce my travel time by another 10 minutes. Amazing. Even with the road works, I had managed to keep to my usual driving time of 40 minutes.

By Friday that week, I had explored more and more of the area, managing to reduce my travel time further. Now I am at 31 minutes, which is a whopping reduction of my driving time. Compared to my old routine, the new route is saving me one and a half hours driving time per week.

The possibility of radically reducing my driving time had not even crossed my mind until road works disrupted my daily pattern. For years, I had been driving my car more constrained by the rigidity of my ideas than by physical limitations.

I am not going to stop here. I have decided that this improvement is just the beginning. Forget about driving time, there are so many other things that I want to do better. It is the interior that makes a house into a home, I tell myself every morning. It is ideas that transform random events into stepping stones. Next time you hear me talking about my car, please remind me that I should rather be focusing on my destination.


[Image by Gidzy under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]