Let lazy practices flop into innovative breakthroughs

Imagine someone saying to you, “He is the laziest engineer in the world”, or “She is the laziest business leader I have ever seen”. Not a very impressive way to label someone.

When a local newspaper described Dick Fosbury as the “world’s laziest high jumper”, what they really wanted to say was, this young high jumper has an unconventional approach to doing things.

They did not say he was unconventional. They said he was lazy.

Dick Fosbury was not lazy. He tapped into his intuitive energy and imagination, and discovered a more natural way to high jump, which became known as the Fosbury Flop.

Undeterred by the name-calling, Fosbury continued to work on his unconventional high jumping style. After winning the NCAA championships, he went to the 1968 Olympics where he won the gold medal and set a new Olympic high jump record of 2.24 meters (7.35 feet).

Since 1972, every single Olympic gold medal winner and record holder did it with Fosbury’s “lazy jumping style”.

Fosbury started using his Fosbury Flop at the time when sawdust and sand pits were replaced by foam mattresses. He could not have used his backward flop in the old sawdust environment without hurting himself. Fosbury recognized and acted on these changes while others did not.

We must be careful how we look at people who view situations and challenges differently than we do. When someone does something differently, we should be mindful how we evaluate his or her new approach.

We constantly hear; we must be faster, we have to manage our complexity better or we must be more innovative.

Most people, in these situations, do more of what they have always done. If you always do, what you have always done, you will always get what you always got. Not very innovative.

More of the same.

Perhaps it is time for us to take a “lazier” perspective, which is to do things differently, even unconventionally, and pay less attention to what people say. This is how innovative breakthroughs are created. Ignoring convention.

Fosburg flopped his way to the top, perhaps you can to, and “flop” your way to innovative breakthroughs. For more information about the remarkable life and achievements of Dick Fosbury, go to


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Dan Norenberg
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81245 Munich
Phone: +49 172 862 5123

About Dan Norenberg

Dan Norenberg improves leadership performance and organization results through Executive Ownershift®, his transformational growth process for executive teams. As a trusted advisor, consultant and professional speaker, Dan’s mission is to enable executive teams and their organizations to play at their best.