Do You Know What “Vuja De” is? Why it Matters?

Growth mindset Management Respect


“The real act of discovery consists not of finding new lands but in seeing the land with new eyes.”

Marcel Proust, French Philosopher

IBM annually surveys about 1500 CEOs and asks them to identify the most critical issues facing their businesses. The most recent survey highlighted two issues: 1) managing complexity, and 2) developing creativity. They also emphasize that the need for innovation from individuals and groups as perhaps the most elusive trait, obviously necessary to address the complexity challenge. This data has personal implications for you and me. As the world changes faster and faster around us, if we are not constantly reinventing ourselves, we will likely be replaced by someone who brings more value and/or a better approach. How do we constantly reinvent ourselves? What can we learn from people who study and apply innovation as a core business?

IDEO is a highly reputable firm located in Palo Alto, California. They are hired by tier one firms to bring creative solutions to solve big time problems and/or create new market opportunities. They have worked on literally thousands of projects usually concluding with outstanding outcomes for their clients. In studying what the most important ingredients for driving creativity and innovation, they highlight two very important elements underneath their success: 1) Become an anthropologist, and 2) think verbs not nouns. If you want to dig deeper to understand the analysis behind this, read books written by Tom Kelley.

By becoming an anthropologist IDEO challenges us to do the opposite of Déjà Vu (i.e. “we’ve been there before”) and to apply vuja de – to see where we are with fresh eyes. Thinking in verbs rather than nouns, IDEO emphasizes that we tend to focus on providing an experience. And it’s an experience that generates and creates feeling and emotion; something others can find value in.

Character Move:

  1. Vuja de yourself and your situation. Look at yourself and your environment with fresh eyes. What do you see that you might have overlooked or discounted? Remember that the root of respect, one of the core values of the Character Triangle is “to look again.” Know yourself more and you will continue to reinvent yourself. See yourself with fresh eyes!
  2. Ask yourself how people want to describe the experience of interacting with you. Think of yourself as a set of verbs NOT nouns. Who really cares, after we present our label or title, what you and I are (nouns)? But, we know people really care about how we make them feel!

Let’s reinvent and create every day. The world around us is changing daily but that just provides us a glorious incentive to sharpen our anthropological skills and evolve….clearly a verb!

Vuja de in the Triangle,