If Thy Left Hand Offend Thee, Cut It Off

Quit one thing and it puts everything else into question.

Noticing that you are capable of living without any single one thing puts into question everything else you consider essential. And once you know that something vital really may not be, how can you not try removing it?

Provocative amputation is a form of Po— it asks you “what would you do if you removed X” from the equation, whether it be business or personal, just to see how you react. De Bono talks about it– he didn’t invent it though; you can see the same idea at work in a set of Oblique Strategy or IDEO cards.

Here’s how it works. Randomly choose a section of what you want to simplify or improve and ruthlessly cut it out, just to see what happens. Does it improve your life/work/whatever? Does it worsen it? Try 30 days without the amputated section and see what happens, or just do a thought experiment where you question its validity in a serious way.

People do this with food all the time– first, wiping out all possible allergens and then beginning a process of slow re-introduction. How are you reacting? Do you feel better? Are you less sluggish? Because our bodies (and our businesses) are complex machines, this is the only way to see if something is actually valuable or whether it’s hurting us– independent of how we feel about it.

As we’ve heard a million times, “if thy left hand offend thee, cut it off.” But we can’t do that unless we know what offendeth us. The process of provocative amputation lets us do that and see the result, without risking everything. It’s like a temporary CTRL+ALT+DEL.





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