[Quote] You really wanna do something

The best innovation teams get out of their own way, to unlock seemingly-impossible missions worth the greatest of efforts

[Quote] You really wanna do something

[Michael:]  “You really wanna do something
that people who know a little something
think you can’t do. ...”

[Ewan:]  “Just to show that it could be done
would be great.
But only if it can be done.”

— Michael Bream of EV West & Ewan McGregor. Long Way Up.

The point for innovation

This is of my favorite quotes ever that's not officially from innovation but absolutely about innovation.

In fact, this show, Long Way Up, along with its two predecessors, bristles with common situations and sentiments that we encounter in innovation work. When my family and I watched it, I stopped it so often to tell my kids "see, this is how it feels to do my work!" that my kids got sick of it and told me to pipe up and just let them watch the show already!

So why does it matter?

I've seen too many innovation teams who have lost track of their potential, of how fantastic they might be. They are lost in small issues, in arcane details of what process to pursue, in mandates that don't even matter to them. Some are unaware of the issues, like fish who are unaware of what water is. But others have simply lost the motivation to push for bigger things.

What should and could be possible instead is that these teams "do something that people who know a little something think can't be done!"

What to do about this

If you feel that your team is one of those that are hopelessly stuck in a bog, I hope that this quote might offer a little nudge to help you re-build your fighting spirit. You CAN do fantastic things. And one way to start doing so is to reframe your entire perspective and rediscover visions that truly matter.

Even if your team seems to be humming along just fine, thank you very much, this quote and the show from which it stems have insights to offer: Only a team that's perfectly in tune from many iterations of work together have any hope of achieving great results: You need the endless trust that stems from people repeatedly making themselves vulnerable to the others around them and seeing that risk pay off every time. And you need repetitions, practice, shared process, and the total group-level flow that stems from it, too. Your upside potential stays clogged up, as long as you are discussing what tools even to use, spend precious time reinventing things that don't matter, everyone on your team isn't absolutely top-notch at their craft, or your team can naturally play off each other, so the craft itself drops into the background and you collectively focus on achieving the supposedly-impossible

(Side bar, for more on this topic, see the fantastic book The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle.)


Long Way Up

Created by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman, David Alexanian, and Russ Malkin

Apple TV+ (2020)

Watch on Apple TV+

Further reading and watching

Coyle, D. (2018). The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. Bantam. http://books.google.com/books?id=SwtFDwAAQBAJ&hl=&source=gbs_api 

McGregor, E., Boorman, C., Alexanian, D., & Malkin, R. (2020). Long Way Up : Apple TV+. Retrieved 2023-10-06 from https://tv.apple.com/us/show/long-way-up/umc.cmc.1nv0tluok21c2f8549mdjqdnh

EV West (Instagram, Catalog website)

Long Way Up, a Long Way Production


External links are for your convenience. I do my best to link to reputable sources. But I cannot guarantee or accept liability for 3rd-party links beyond my control.

I have no affiliation with or investments in organizations mentioned in case studies–nor do I ever unless explicitly called out.

The organizations mentioned do not endorse me in any way. Nor do I endorse them. These case studies are offered merely for general information purposes. They do not imply that certain choices or actions are effective or ineffective, either for the organizations mentioned or for you. Consult your own professionals before taking action on anything mentioned here.

I have received no incentive of any kind for mentioning or not mentioning organizations or for the perspectives I take. Opinions voiced above represent my subjective, editorial take, based on public data.

I use all third party content in accordance with "fair use," "open source," and similar permitted uses, to the best of my knowledge. Please contact me in case of legitimate questions.