Sunday, October 04, 2009

Lazy Sunday # 87: Kick Out The Ladder

“Now if you run into a tough situation, it’s very tempting to say, ‘Well let’s just not do this or let’s take the easy path’. But when all you have is the hard path, you just keep going.”

Looking around at the current state of the world, the economy, the future, it’s fairly clear that there are some hard paths ahead. Indeed, taking one hard path or another may be all that we have to choose between.

Certainly, that’s the case for those of us working in film and television. Distribution models are collapsing, pools of development money are shrinking, license fees from broadcasters cover what was once the budget line item for feeding the crew.

The money we used to depend on hasn’t disappeared. Instead, it’s primarily being used to finance the debt most main stream media conglomerates took on to buy up their competition. One rogue moment in the economy and suddenly they’re strapped.

And then they get further strapped by having to hire people who don’t know their business but get paid a whole lot of money to manage debt.

Think of it as getting a job, using your new found salary to lease a car and then getting fired. Life isn’t over and you’ve got some savings. But you’ve also got these car payments. Instead of employees living two pay checks away from being on the street, the companies they work for are now in the same situation.

In days like these, a lot of well-meaning politicians and self-help gurus come along with platitudes like, “When you’re in a hole – stop digging” and “tighten your belts" until we can get “shovels in the ground” --- which sounds a lot like continuing to dig a deeper hole.

Maybe we need to put our shovels down and start looking around for a different tool.

If there are going to be fewer outlets for our work, even fewer places to pitch our ideas and nothing to live on while creating and crafting what will finally get you out of this mess, then some new approach has to be found.

But how do you find it?

At Honda, one of the few car makers not asking for a government hand-out or facing imminent failure because of current realities, and always one of the most innovative at making cars better, the engineers have a philosophy called “kicking out the ladder”.

What that means is --- you climb a ladder to the second floor. Somebody takes away the ladder that provided your support and a way of escape. Now what do you do? The idea is that giving you no options creates new thinking and new solutions.

“Kicking out the ladder” is one of a series Honda has placed on a new video site, designed to teach you new ways of problem solving so you can realize your own dreams.

And these are far from boring corporate videos.

Watching a Honda executive with a decided Bushido streak describe what “Kick out the ladder” really means is the kind of delicious moment that makes you want to learn everything these guys have to offer about thinking outside the box.

So, kick out the ladder.

Find a new path to realizing your dreams.

And enjoy your Sunday.

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