All I ask is to consider the impossible ...

I was reading early this morning and ran across this quote from Henry Ford:

"I am looking for a lot of men [and women] who have an infinite capacity to not know what can't be done."

It struck me that this nicely captures many of the conversations that we have around Phase One and the thought pattern that I would like to see happening more often around town.  There is a certain level of, for lack of better word, naivety that we all need to have when we are tackling the thorniest challenges.  Sometimes we need to mentally scrap what we know in our brains and try to consider the most contrarian viewpoint or concept.  I am not talking about "fail fast" or the "culture of failure" that is often preached by the innovation and start-up experts.  I'm talking about the creativity and level of ingenuity of the idea that, when deployed, might fail ... but could just as easily be the only idea that could work.

Here are a couple of examples from recent conversations:

  • Would Data.gov be more successful without the website?
  • Should Healthcare.gov have be outsourced to a state as a shared service?
  • Can all CPIC work be eliminated by simply measuring customer satisfaction?
  • Should IT budgets be pegged as a set percentage of Agency budget?
  • Why does every Agency run its own web infrastructure?
  • Shouldn't there be a single email environment for the non-DOD part of the government?
  • Should the public play a role in vendor selection for major procurements?
  • Shouldn't winning proposals be made public?
  • Shouldn't my DOD clearance be sufficient for other Agencies?
  • Should Congress really have any say in IT oversight or policy?

I'm not saying these are all great ideas but they reflect a willingness to be naive.  I'd like to see the top 10 most naive ideas for the Federal Government's top 10 most thorny problems.  Something tells me that those ideas would be good and just might be more on the right track than the safe or reasonable sounding ideas.

NFL great John Madden once famously quipped that "the only thing the prevent defense does is prevent you from winning."  Haven't we been playing it safe for too long?