The power of an idea whose time has come

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

These words are often attributed to Victor Hugo (1802-1885), a French novelist, poet, playwright and historian, though he did not write them.What Hugo actually wrote, in the final chapter of his Histoire d’un Crime, was: “On resiste a l’invasion des armees; on ne resiste pas a l’invasion des idees” which literally means “One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas”.

Hugo’s words are still relevant today despite the fact that he wrote them over 150 years ago in the context of the 1851 French coup d’état,


Because the words remind us that ideas are powerful.

Ideas can help you achieve what you want and ideas can block you.

This applies to individuals and corporations.

  • At the individual level, an idea may inspire you to do something. An idea may also be a new way of doing something. Either way the idea may help you reach your goals.
  • Similarly, at the corporate level, an idea may lead lead to new products, new ways of doing things, and increased productivity.

Without new ideas there can be no productivity growth. This is because without new ideas you just keep doing the same thing


and you either burn out trying to keep up, or you get overtaken be others who have adopted new ideas.

As individuals we need to look after ourselves.

As managers our role includes looking for ideas that help our staff to become more productive and these ideas may go beyond training and technology. For instance, management may boost productivity by managing the corporate culture so as to make it a more productive environment. Exactly how this is done will depend on many factors, but the principles are the exactly the same in every case.

A quick test to see if your organization’s productivity is being held back by its culture is to look at its most recent SWOT analysis to see if culture is listed as a STRENGTH or a WEAKNESS.

  • If it is not a STRENGTH it is probably a WEAKNESS – either because it has been identified as such, or because it is not even on management’s radar.
  • If it is not a STRENGTH then there is an OPPORTUNITY to improve it.

Ideas are most powerful when shared, so share with friends and managers. See how it resonates with them. See what new ideas come from it. Keep an open mind. Have a great day.

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