Monday, February 13, 2012
Learning How to Think Differently
There are various ways to dissect what thinking differently means. I would like to suggest three strategies to begin improving your individual and/or organization’s ability to think differently.
A popular concept is “FedEx Day” – because you have to deliver something overnight. The Australian software company Atlassian's “FedEx Day” sets 1 1/2 days per quater aside for developers to work on whatever they want with a focus towards their products. Atlassian’s “FedEx Day” has a fairly open format where developers can do whatever they want as long as they can relate it to their products. They start after lunch on a Thursday and work until 4pm Friday when ideas are presented to everyone.
The goals of “FedEx” are:
· Foster creativity. Atlassian hires smart people and wants to tap that brain-power.
· Scratch itches. Every developer has something that bugs them about their products or something they'd like to see done differently.
· Spike. Often, radical ideas don't get traction because it’s not understood how they'd work or what benefit they'd provide.
· Have fun. Progams like “FedEx” make Atlassian a fun place to work.
Role-Play or Debates
This strategy encourages and even forces participants to make associations and connections across different ideas when they don’t naturally emerge. You can have different members of a team assume the persona of someone from another company – perhaps one of your competitors. Or assign two members of your team to debate the merits of a proposal or idea so the entire team can see the proposal from a different point-of-view.
Idea Generator App - http://startupideagenerator.com/
The Idea Generator comes in a smart phone and iPad app. The smart phone app randomly combines three words together when you shake your phone. Shake it again and three more random words appear. The randomness allows people to see words and ideas together they would normally not associate related or connected. For a non-tech version, you can create your own idea generator by putting the components of different ideas and solutions you’re working with onto scraps of paper and randomly pair the scraps together into as many combinations as desired.
Thinking differently doesn’t come easily to everyone but everyone can be better at it. It is hard work and can wear you out. Researchers have indicated that 60% to 80% of adults find the task of thinking differently uncomfortable and exhausting. Like physical fitness, thinking differently requires active repetition, time and effort in order to improve your brain-muscles.