good things need practice that is the trouble with being lazy

Blackout poem by Austin Kleon (

The first time you swing a hammer, you’re going to bend some nails and probably hit your thumb once or twice.¬†Even though a hammer is an exquisitely simple tool, getting good at using a hammer requires practice (and if you’ve ever seen a master carpenter use a hammer, it’s a thing of beauty – google “Larry Haun human nail gun” if you want to explore that particular rabbit trail).

The same is true with the techniques and methods in the Innovation Toolkit. Each one is delightfully low-tech and deliberately simple… but don’t be surprised if the first time you use one, it’s harder than it looks.

I encountered this situation first-hand when I introduced the Lotus Blossom to some high school interns. This is probably the simplest tool in the whole kit, and although they understood the application right away, they struggled mightily to figure out how to use it. I let them wrestle and flail for a while, exploring and experimenting with how to use the Lotus Blossom on their project. Then I showed them how I would have done it – in less than five minutes, we had a clear, useful artifact they could use for the rest of the project.

The point is, when it comes to tools, mastery takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself. Don’t get discouraged if you bend some metaphorical nails. Find a coach who can help guide you through the process. And most of all, don’t give up.