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Chapter 3. Transformational Thinking > Incremental vs. Transformational Thinkin...

Incremental vs. Transformational Thinking

Incremental Transformational

Works within the current system

Step-by-step improvements

Changes in degrees

More of the same, only better

Like working through a maze

Lower risk

Replaces established framework

A different way of thinking

Changes in kind

Challenges assumptions

Like knocking down walls and rebuilding

Higher risk


Although the term transformational thinking may have been unknown a century ago, it was being practiced, as the following historical example illustrates.

During his 1912 presidential campaign, Theodore Roosevelt planned a train trip to speak with voters and to distribute informative pamphlets. The pamphlet cover presented an impressive photograph of Roosevelt. Unfortunately, no one from Roosevelt’s staff noticed—until three million copies were printed—the words under the photo that read: “Moffett Studios, Chicago.” Campaign chief George Perkins was horrified to learn that his campaign literature featured unauthorized copyrighted material, and the going rate for reproduced photos was one dollar per copy.

If the copyright holder demanded the full fee, the campaign would be bankrupt and the candidate’s financial acumen brought into question. On the other hand, if the copyright issue were ignored, Roosevelt’s ethics could be discredited. Instead of “either/or” thinking—choosing between two negatives—Perkins transformed a potential catastrophe by looking at the larger picture.

He wired Moffett:

“Planning on giving national publicity to your studios with three million pamphlets bearing your photograph of Theodore Roosevelt. Will you help defray the cost of pamphlet printing?” The publicity idea appealed to the Moffett Studios president who replied: “All I can afford is $250.” Perkins accepted.

What might be another way you could have transformed the situation?






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