In life and business, false influences regularly overtake realism and diminish innovation and curiosity. And nowhere is that more prevalent than in today’s foodservice equipment and supplies industry.

chip evansWhen exploring potential scenarios, it is only natural to draw on past experiences and even your own logic. Unfortunately, neither are infallible approaches.

Basically, making decisions solely on what might have been or what history allegedly tells us is basically an exercise in conjecture because these approaches often lack conclusive evidence. Further, one’s outlook can often be diminished by the emotions tied to past experiences.

Instead of turning to conjecture, would conducting a true post-mortem examination of a deal or project with the intent of really trying to understand what went well and awry pave the way to real growth in the foodservice industry? This is likely true. Of course, business leaders often feel they learn from their mistakes and yet they continue to repeat them, particularly in the foodservice industry.

Our industry, led by the conglomerates, continues to sell to the educated public on price, often by forced pessimism.

Some people can’t see skepticism as a positive trait. They don’t see the value in questioning the logic, suggestions, instructions or orders of others as adding value in any way. No matter the situation, positivists will forever see the bright side of things.

Yet, some of the greatest people who develop innovative solutions do so by questioning all the rules, authority and logic in a given situation. “Question authority” may be two of the greatest words ever written together, and if we as a human race (or as businesses) can question more, we gain. The positivists, by their dogma, may be robbing us of our creativity.

One approach that can potentially have a positive impact on members of the foodservice industry is defensive pessimism. While not negative, this artful approach questions every aspect of a given scenario to promote realism, positivity and negativity.

It’s not enough to simply look on the bright side or try to identify everything that can go wrong or simply think realistically. Relying too heavily on any one of these approaches can diminish creativity and innovation. Instead, it’s important to listen to understand and not to be understood.

The true reality is that by being only positive, negative or realistic limits us to the true cliché that we know all there is to know. To succeed we need to harness each emotion.

Firmly believing anything is absolutism, but the only absolute is zero. Ultimately, we know what we know, and not what we do not know.