Good Habits #21: Be Open to New Ideas

By | March 9, 2016

[March 9, 2016]  One of the concerns about being a military engineer is that we can be intellectually trapped by our education and experiences.  Yet, there are great engineers who’ve escaped and produced amazing works.  They did this by developing a daily habit of being open to new ideas.

We all have marveled at those who designed and built the Panama Canal, the Brooklyn Bridge, or the Great Pyramids of Egypt.  These things and many more were not built on the foundation of the past but on developing new and creative ideas, techniques, and procedures.  Being open to new ideas increases a leader’s chances of success by:

  • Sometimes reaffirming their own position
  • Encouraging creativity and new ways of doing things
  • Empowering the workforce and increasing satisfaction in what they do
  • Helping motivate people to achieve excellence

The biggest engineering challenge of U.S. and Coalition forces in the Iraq War was how to place 60,000 new military and supporting civilian personnel into a desert environment.  Troops would begin to flow into the country starting in 90 days and continue until complete four months later.  Most folks know this as the “surge” that eventually decimated the Iraqi insurgency.

The engineering preparation however is largely an unknown but nonetheless was a crucial phase of the operation that was also successful.  Engineers didn’t succeed because they used pre-designed structures or off-the-shelf plans.  It was done through being open to new ideas on how to house, feed, protect, and care for a large number of people in a shortened window of time.

Being open to new ideas requires new personal strategies of doing things.  It means:

  • Being open to mistakes and increased risk of failure
  • Lessening of direct control to allow others to do things and make decisions
  • Understanding and practicing change
  • Listening more and avoiding quick decisions
  • Being increasingly honest and admitting you are not all-knowing

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.