The leaves are falling from the trees: it is autumn. A time of “In-between”: no longer summer, not yet winter. Time to reflect. “Der wahre Raum liegt im Dazwischen (The real space is in-between)” a blog post by John Korten came to me just right and reminded me of a project worked on this spring. I explored the significance of the “in-between”. For this I went through a city unknown to me and documented “in-betweens”, as in this photo:

Aarhus Hafen
Aarhus Hafen – vom Industriegebiet zum kulturellen Mittelpunkt

In the port of Aarhus, Denmark, we find the change at every corner. The former industrial area is transforming into a cultural center of the city. Where once dockers landed goods, large factories produced vegetable oils and agricultural products were stored, now films are being produced in the second largest studios in the country, the new city library is built and the Kaospiloten are located – a training ground for future start-up founders.

But still, their are ships at the docks and containers are handled. Not quite a port on its own, anymore, but also not inner-city culture area and clean city promenade.

Noch liegen Schiffe im Hafen, während im Hintergrund ein neues Stadtviertel entsteht.
Noch liegen Schiffe im Hafen, während im Hintergrund ein neues Stadtviertel entsteht.

These are the most exciting places for me. The old lies behind, the new is not yet reached. You feel that something is growing here. But often we miss this moment or ignore it because we want to be there already – arrived at our destination.

This also applies, when we want to change. We know, we must get out of our comfort zone and change it. We need something new, quick: a new business model or a new goal. Let us give it some thoughts. Run a workshop. One hour is enough, ok? And then we just do it. We implement. Don’t rest too long. Otherwise, doubts are rising, a lot of details are still ambigious and uncertainty everywhere.

The “in-between” is quite frightening for most people. We want to jump from one comfort zone to the next and feel familiar and safe again. In our desire to be as fast as possible on solid ground again, we often miss the chance to create something really new and exciting. The in-between is the place where we explore, where new ideas are born and we can test out options. A lab for ideas.

Rather than feeling uncomfortable about uncertainty, we should familiarize ourselves with it and are happy that at this moment, where nothing is fixed, but everything is open. To make us comfortable with the in-between, it is best to put the pressure for success at rest for a moment and set new goals for us:

  • to discover the potential in the new challenge
  • get surprised
  • develop and test as many new ideas or approaches

As we make our first step, not wanting to come immediately to a solution, but to better understand the challenge and develop as many solution ideas as possible, we create the necessary space in our mind and reduce the fear of the unknown. Another good approach to explore the in-between is to use a process that leads step by step through the unknown. The process acts as a safety rope. It isn’t limiting us, but supports us not to get lost completely. Examples of such processes are:

  • Design Thinking
  • Creative Problem Solving

They make the unconcrete in the beginning of everything new more understandable and to developmore concrete solutions from different inspirations and ideas . The processes makes it easier and more interesting to stay in-between, and to actively use the uncertainty for the better, rather than be intimidated by it.

The next time you want to start something new, give yourself some time and test it, discover how much freedom and quality of innovation is in-between. You will enjoy it.