Don’t Think Outside a New Box


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Given the dynamic nature of business, you are probably facing a dizzying array of business challenges every day.

Have you faced a new business problem that you tried to solve with a legacy perspective?

Maybe you found that old rules don’t solve new problems. Existing frames of reference may hinder not help.

I would like to tell you about a new experience. 2013-02-09 11.14.00

A couple of weeks ago, Southern Ontario plunged into a deep freeze. While the North East USA got hammered with a couple feet of snow, Toronto got away with a foot.

The day after the snowstorm I drove down to Tiffany Falls, Ancaster.

Of the few places to ice climb in Southern Ontario, it was ironic that I attended an introductory course on ice climbing only a few minutes away from where I grew up in Hamilton.

As you can see (to the left), the sun was shining in a bluebird sky. It was a frosty cold day but beautiful.

The instructor gave us an overview of ice climbing with detailed instruction on what to do.

He explained that folks botched their first attempt at ice climbing but on the second try, people were successful. The third climb was the best.

I watched a guy about half my age quickly clamber to top of the falls without much challenge.

Then it was my turn….I gracefully achieved the instructor’s expectation by stumbling again and again and again.

I was trying to climb the center of the waterfall with crumbling ice that shattered each time I used my ice axes or kicked my crampons (metal boot spikes) into the ice.

Ice Climbing 2013-02-09

Disappointed and dejected, I walked down to the instructor and asked him for advice – what was I doing wrong?

Although ice climbing was new to me, I had rock climbed in the past.

The instructor pointed out that I was climbing ice using rock climbing techniques.

Rather than kicking my boot into the ice on an angle, I needed to kick straight into the ice and leverage my toe-hold.

This required a leap of faith: climbing up a vertical face and relying on my crampons to hold in ice but only penetrating an inch or so in the ice.

“In crampons we trust….in crampons we trust”.

Well the advice did the trick….I ignored my previous learning from rock climbing and followed the instructor’s advice.

It was exhilarating to climb up the 50 foot waterfall but unnerving to look down and see my boots ‘floating in air’


Source: The Hamilton Spectator

Like me, you may have not recognized that in order to solve a new problem, you need to recognize the need for a new perspective with new rules.

Sometimes past experiences can impede, rather than help you.

(Notes: my falls from ice climbing were cushioned by a safety rope. No animals were hurt in the course of this ice climbing)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Robert Lesser
I am the founder and President of Direct Impact Marketing, a provider of a sales productivity solution and consulting services to technology organizations. Prior to stepping out as an entrepreneur, I held a number of marketing positions at Dell, IBM, Reckitt Benckiser and Loblaw Companies.


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