I Could Have Done That!

Nancy Duarte beautifully tells the story of the architect Filippo Brunelleschi and how he won the right to build the Dome for the magnificent Cathedral in Florence.

It’s a terrific story, and you should go read it – it’s ok, I’ll wait.

So, the climax of the story is that Brunelleschi does something clever with an egg to win the job. When the other architects that were bidding for the job saw his trick,

The other architects protested that they could have done that, too, to which Filippo replied that they could have built the dome, too, had they seen his model. Impressed, the judges awarded Filippo the commission to construct the dome.

This reminded me of one of my own stories:

One of the best live shows that I saw during my university days was Beat Happening and Girl Trouble. All of us were a long way from home in Washington when I saw them in New Jersey. While Beat Happening was playing what I thought was a pretty mesmerising show, my friend Tom leaned over to me and said “we could do that.” I looked at him for a long time, then said “but we don’t, do we?”

The point of both stories is that you need to act. It’s not enough to say “we could do that” if you don’t actually do it. The power is in the action, not in the idea.

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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