THE BLOG
03/21/2013 12:20 pm ET Updated May 21, 2013

Reinvention: Editing Out What's Not Working, Finding What Does Work

The reinvention of a career, a company, or a governmental policy usually begins with looking at what's working, and then asking what isn't working. Reinvention is a lot like revising a piece of writing. To reinvent, you review what currently is and ask yourself what's not moving the process ahead.

To get to yes, you often have to first connect with thousands of people saying no, or we'll get back to you later. Frustratingly, for millions, the systems that used to work effectively no longer handle things smoothly. Healthcare is a mess, the infrastructure of our country is in dire need of upgrading, the economy is in a slow uphill slog, and formerly dependable career paths have simply gone away. Our broken systems need editing, fixing, and yes, reinventing.

While email, texting, and tweeting haven't made everyone a writer, they have made people think in shorter forms. Editing out the non-essential. On one level, Twitter seems like a tech platform backlash to rambling email messages, the email newsletter, or long form writing in general. The creators of Twitter felt the need to severely limit the character count of messages, and in an overly content-filled world, they hit a nerve with millions. With Twitter, email was reinvented by editing words down to bare minimum messaging, bird-like tweets, made for a hyperactive and mobile culture.

We are constantly editing with our minds. Choosing one activity over another, a smarter response over a less effective one, a new strategy instead of the same non-responsive methods. Contemporary life is a series of mental edits, quick shifts, and instant changes. Narrative in movies has become more complex, characters developed with multiple layers of subtext. It's as if our art and entertainment had to become more complicated to match the jump cuts and edits our brains now expect.

Established businesses are interested in injecting reinvention into their business model. Large corporations may have longevity on their side, but without engaged emotion behind their brand many are just treading water. Some startups begin with the idea of staying on top of figuring out what's not working from the beginning, and turning this idea into an ongoing way of being a living system, rather than accepting a stagnant business model.

Reinvention as a mode of interacting with the world is turning up on TV shows, in business articles, and on the social web. The starting point for reinventing a career path, a company, or a belief system, is coming to terms with what isn't effective, and then asking the right questions. Answers can be personal and transforming, and answers might have a global scope and change millions of lives. Without Twitter, the Arab Spring might have happened in a completely different way. And how Twitter or another iteration or reinvention of social media will affect the next social uprising remains to be seen.

The great thing about the reinvention movement is its personal application. Answers can be personal and transforming, and answers could have a global scope and change millions of lives. Answers can change a career path or a community. And answers may be what one has been striving for in a lifelong quest, or come as a flash from instant insight.

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