Imagine it Forward – Beth Comstock

In Imagine It Forward, Comstock writes about how when we are excavating the emotional reasons behind why we do things, we tend to avoid negative emotions, such as worry, fear, and anger. These emotions point to problems just beneath the surface, trends, or opportunities that are emerging that nobody has spotted yet. However, our fear, if acknowledged, can be valuable sources of knowledge for ourselves and our organizations. One of the greatest enemies of change is what she calls incapacitated learning. It is knowing so much about what we already know that we are last to see the future differently.


  1. Leaders, managers, and employees have to be able to move forward without having all the answers.
  2. Ask yourself and others: “Is there something new I can learn?”
  3. There is always a “better way” to do things.
  4. Constantly push yourself and others to ask the next question.
  5. No matter how worthy an idea, you are not entitled to blind trust.
  6. Everything is feedback. Try, fail, iterate, try again.
  7. Each rejection suggests a new approach. Think too large, or become too emotional, and you become paralyzed. You have to focus on the process, on the one thing you can do to keep momentum. It helps to break down the larger vision into smaller, more manageable bites that can be acted upon.
  8. Six Sigma: Ultimate control system and a way to produce products that are as defect-free as possible.
  9. Having time to connect with people is as important as getting everything done. Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast.
  10. It’s not what we sell, it’s why we sell.
  11. Bring good things to light.
  12. What you imagine, you can make happen.
  13. Traditional four-P’s of marketing: product, promotion, place, and price.
  14. Before you can challenge assumptions and dislodge the status quo, you need to understand the fundamentals.
  15. We needed an “outside-in” approach to generate insights to improve a product or process. You need a different perspective.
  16. Putting out ideas and defending them until they are ready is part of your obligation as a change-maker.
  17. If everyone agrees on the same approach to an idea, perhaps you’re not pushing the boundaries hard enough.
  18. Conflict can make your idea or product better. Perhaps your problem is that there isn’t enough conflict in your process.
  19. State the issues as you see them. Then ask the other person to do the same.
  20. Keep talking until the issues are resolved.
  21. You have to get up in the morning and fight for what you believe in. And you have to create a climate in which your people have permission to do the same.
  22. The need to go beyond what you are authorized to do can be a positive trait when you are pushing to change the way things are done. The secret is to know where the boundaries lie.
  23. The key is to learn how to push the limits without being seen as unacceptably subversive.
  24. Consumer behavior is one of the hardest things to change.
  25. Don’t be afraid to go beyond what you are authorized to do when you are changing the way things are done.
  26. Strategy is a story well told. And if your story doesn’t hang together, perhaps your strategy isn’t sound.
  27. Traditional business strategy too often does not bother to create a story or narrative about its actions for its employees and the world to gather around.
  28. For the strategy to become reality, people need to see themselves in the story and then take action to make the story happen.
  29. Necessity may be the mother invention, but I’ve found irritation works pretty well, too.
  30. In change, people have to find their own path. You can’t mandate how that happens. But you can create the right conditions.
  31. If you have to explain why something might help them in the future, it doesn’t happen. But if it stops a pain they are having, that’s what they need and so that’s what they’ll buy.
  32. To be human today means living in a world in which almost every day brings some sort of massive disturbance. Unknown unknowns lurking everywhere.
  33. The pace of change is never going to be slower than today. Change happens but our responsibility is to shape it, adapt to it, and make it work for us.
  34. What we need is to imagine different, be different, do different.
  35. The rewards go to those who stand up and stand out, taking what feels like unreasonable chances.
  36. Change is part of everyone’s job.
  37. We need stories to give our work and our lives meaning. Strategy is a story well told.
  38. It’s about meeting change early. It’s about being ready for change and not being surprised. It is about the ability to imagine it forward.
Take time to get to know people. Understand where they are coming from, what is important to them. Make sure they are with you.
*I take no credit for any of these points.

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