Bump Your Thinking Into a New World For New Solutions

Bump Your Thinking Into a New World For New Solutions

By Paul Roberts

A few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier, where Route 66 meets the Pacific, I met a Lebanese man called George, who quipped about how a book changes when you reread it ten years later.  Of course the words are the same, and if you are a hoarder of books like me, the actual book is probably the same; yet it is different.  The great American author Phillip Roth said something similar in that there are as many versions of his books as there are readers (I am paraphrasing because I can’t find the quote).  In this vein, the ten-years-older you is a new reader, one that has seen more of the world and it able to see the same words with new eyes, able to understand in a new way what the author was communicating.  Time has changed you, it has given you new lenses to put on the words and its world.

Often when we are trying to come up with innovative solutions to our challenges, we are stuck because we can’t see the problem in any other way.  We seem to have reached the capacity of our thinking.  If we put the problem to the side and came back a decade later we might have a new perspective, but we are unlikely to still have a job.  So how do we break our pattern of thinking?

Seeing a new point of view is challenging. Daniel Kahneman in his incredible book Thinking, Fast and Slow, tells how the same part of the brain (the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex) that is used in motor control (stopping your body from doing something it wants to or is in the habit of doing)  is active when you a trying to see someone else’s point of view i.e. controlling your desire to see the world in the same old way .  Meaning you must actively dampen you pre-existing paradigm, if you are to see a new paradigm.

With our clients we use various techniques that help bump their thinking into new spaces.  One Synectics exercise is called an excursion (formalized by the Synectics founders and used in various forms by many innovative thinkers).

To run an excursion, follow these three steps:

  1. Put the problem to the side,
  2. visit another world, & generate information about that new world, information that is seemingly irrelevant to your problem,
  3. then force fit a connection back to your problem.

This simple technique is incredibly powerful.  Try it where you are.

If you are stuck on a problem, take a walk, take a look out the window, look around the office. Write down a few words about what you see, hear, smell, feel.  Pick one of them and force a connection between it and the problem you are trying to solve – there is a connection if you actively look for it, and it will give you a new lens to view your problem, and another you to work with.

Enjoy forcing the connections and finding new solutions!

At PreScouter, we provide custom research, on demand, to quickly excel business development, R&D, and product development planning and decision making.

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