Where Innovation is Concerned, Should Common-Sense be Encouraged or Discouraged?


On the surface, this question may appear somewhat irregular, or even stupid. However, upon deeper examination, you might discover that common-sense is often not so common. Maybe common-sense is actually uncommon and; therefore, extraordinary. Seemingly, the world often confuses the two.

For example, upon first sight of some highly pragmatic innovation, you often hear people say: “Well, that’s just common-sense, I could have come up with that.” What do they really mean by this? Consider problem solving. How many times in your life have you come across an eloquently simple solution to a resilient problem, only for someone to say: “Well, I could have told you that?” If so, why didn’t that person do just that?

Maybe common-sense is not just the “average level of sensibility” in a population of people. Perhaps common-sense is just a “way of thinking” that is common among a mass of people. Is there a scale of sensibility that has some probability distribution, or is it something you either have or you don’t? Do criteria exist that circumscribes common-sense?

Are great inventions and innovations brought about by the application of common-sense, or is extraordinary sense required to manifest such things? The dictionary defines common-sense as “good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.” So what is meant by the word “sense?” Again turning to the dictionary, we find that “sense” is defined as “the normal ability to think or reason soundly.”

Does this mean that common-sense can be characterized by the norm of a distribution? Does this suggest that common-sense is somehow correlated to a certain range of intelligence? Can a genius possess common-sense? Can a moron possess common-sense? Is common-sense only reserved for commoners?

What are your thoughts, especially where the idea of innovation is concerned?

About Mikel Harry

Dr. Harry has been widely recognized in many of today's notable publications as the Co-Creator of Six Sigma and the world's leading authority within this field. His book entitled Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations has been on the best seller list of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Business Week, and Amazon.com. He has been a consultant to many of the world’s top senior executives, such as Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of General Electric Corporation. Dr. Harry has also been a featured guest on popular television programs, such as the premier NBC show "Power Lunch." He is often quoted in newspapers like USA Today and interviewed by the media, such as The Economic Times. In addition, Dr. Harry has received many distinguished awards in recognition of his contributions to industry and society. At the present time, Dr. Harry is Chairman of the Six Sigma Management Institute and CEO of The Great Discovery, LLC.
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