Colic-driven Development

The idea behind the Oslo Opera House came after a role switch. When first opened eight years ago, visitors were presented with a fairy tale, allowing everybody to literally walk on top of the glacier-like surface of the building before being lured inside, into an adventurous quest for the “Hall of the Mountain King” (According to Norwegian folklore, The Mountain King normaly resides inside the Dovrefjell mountain range, who’s highest peak – Snøhetta – incidentally has the same name as the architect company that drew the Opera House). It was an iconic building that soon became a part of the identity of Oslo, and the web site still melts down twice a year, when next season’s tickets are out.

It’s a glacier. You’re supposed to walk on top of it

So how did they come up with this idea?

It was when the engineer became architect, the architect became writer, the writer became engineer, and so on. The Opera House development team were all experts in their fields. They had spent 10–20 of their best years learning to say: “No, that’s not possible”. Switching roles allowed everybody to turn stupid again.

“Anders, you should sleep less and work less,” a co-worker told me soon after I got my second baby. I had spoken my mind about something important. Allegedly, I was unusually open-minded. I don’t remember what it was about.

I’m about to become an expert – it’s inevitable. Heading towards 40, I’ve participated in development projects, innovation initiatives, product startups and what have you. The main advantage? It’s increasingly easier to get people to believe me, when I say “that’s not possible”.

Entrepreneurship, that rebel, is however in. The new business is the versatile business. We’re not supposed to streamline, rather – innovation is about going against the stream. Hence, we must go beyond ourselves and change the world by solving human needs in open-minded, cross-functional work. That’s not necessarily good news for anyone who aims at getting really good at one thing.

The Mountain King awaits you

Unless you face severe sleep deprivation (what a blessing). The already slow thinking part of your brain slows down even further and you face a choice: Retreat mentally, and tell co-workers and customers they shouldn’t count on you for some time. Or, do the opposite. Go for it. Don’t think, don’t analyze, but rather speak your mind. Do first, think later (most babies do grow up, remember). If you do say something stupid, you get away with telling people you haven’t slept for some months.

Expertise is a curse. You need to reach a certain level, and you need to continue developing those specialized skills. But you also need to expand, if nothing else for the sake of remembering what it feels like to be a rookie. You won’t find the Hall of the Mountain King by benchmarking against prior experience. You find it by exploring.

So get a baby or switch roles. It’s a new world, I promise.


Related posts from @hauge2:

Anders Haugeto (38) is software engineer and entrepreneur helping the customers of Iterate innovate faster. He shows you how lean thinking helps your mission in life – disrupt yourself from within.

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