Soichoro Honda (Founder of Honda) personally experienced numerous crisis and unexpected setbacks in his early years in the auto industry which included:

1. Factory destroyed by fire
2. Supplies rationed during wartime
3. Designs failed and threw productions schedules into a panic

While the crisis weren’t welcomed, Honda began to note how each crisis improved the eventual outcome. Over time Honda came to value uncertainty as a catalyst for breakthroughs- so much so that he implemented a management practice that became known as “Kick Out the Ladder.”

Just as a team neared completion on a project, he would create a crisis that would threaten everything. For example, if a team’s deadline was 8 weeks to finish a project he would shorten the deadline to 7 weeks. Creating this crisis forced his team to IMPROVISE and begin creating and innovating. He wanted his team to get away from thinking this is “how things have always been done” and think of new solutions, processes and procedures.

Kick out the ladder forces us to improvise and gets out of our complacent state. Complacency allows to coast through our days, however, it doesn’t challenge us to come up with new ideas, practices, procedures or services. New ideas, practices, procedures and services do not come from complacency, rather, they come from improvising.

What would happen if you kicked out the ladder?

*Excerpts taken from Erik Wahl’s book “Un Think”