Circles also populate the common frameworks of innovation. We see it in the Lean Startup methodology of Build-Measure-Learn. Design Thinking is often presented as the triple circles of the Venn diagram of Desirability-Feasibility-Viability.
Choose spirals instead
While the cyclical nature of innovation has been adopted as a given, I believe it’s the spiral that’s a better pictorial choice. Instead of coming back to your origin point, your aim is to begin the pattern again at a higher and more expansive level. Always moving upward and outward, creating a cycle of continuous improvement — even if it is incremental.
Negative connotations of “running around in circles” also support the preference of spirals over circles. I’m all for the power of repetition, but who wants to repeat work or experience only to arrive back at the same spot?
Move from 2-D to 3-D
Shifting from circle to spiral imagery also means you can recast your path from 2-D to 3-D. Your journey no longer needs to be flat and listless on a sheet of paper. Instead, it transforms into a three-dimensional mental space that’s dynamic and poised for action. Can you feel the movement?
My challenge for you this week: Find one area of your life where you have traditionally been thinking in circles. How might your journey — whether today’s To-Do list, annual goals, project objectives, or even life mission — be changed by thinking in spirals instead of circles?
Make something happen,
P.S. I received some great emails on last week’s post on the Snow Tap and Tacit Knowledge (see it here if you missed it). A colleague from California wryly pointed out that it’s a “Sand Tap” out West. A softball coach of teens noted the similarities in guiding young athletes to develop muscle memory, writing that a large part of her coaching is “breaking down my tacit knowledge into step-by-step instructions.” And my stepdaughter in India shared that at every house — and sometimes even in stores — shoes are automatically removed. Yes, tacit knowledge crosses knowledge domains and cultures. Thanks for writing.