A Creative Perspective
I’m a frequent business traveler. While there are certainly some perks, it doesn’t have the same glamour it used to. There used to be happy agents at the gate, plenty of space on the plane, and loads of handouts for passengers. Now, everything is a luxury. I recently asked a flight attendant for a pillow. His response was, “We’re fresh out. Maybe you could just wad up your jacket and stick it behind your head?”
Yep. That’s just as good.
A recent trip took me to an island off the coast of Georgia. My flight was delayed, there were problems with the rental car, and the hotel seemed like it was a million miles from the airport. I arrived late, got little sleep, and didn’t have any energy to engage with the client the next evening. I called my wife for sympathy.
“Yeah honey. I was exhausted! I had to eat dinner all by myself. I tried to get some fresh air to wake myself up, but the beach access was restricted due to high tide. Even the shrimp and grits I ordered for dinner were way too much after I ate the crab soup appetizer.”
I heard a noise in my ear, which later turned out to by my wife gritting her teeth.
“It sounds to me like you are staying at one of the most beautiful resort hotels on the East Coast, you are eating like a king, and standing all alone pondering the deepest mysteries of the universe while staring at the waves from your balcony.”
Well… I guess you could look at it that way!
Embarrassed, I apologized to my wife who, after working all day, was busily cleaning up after dinner as kids complained about homework and laundry sat waiting to be folded. I was seeing my life through the eyes of a seasoned traveler, while she was looking at it through the eyes of a first-timer.
This got me to thinking about innovation, and how we fall into these traps all the time. We get so used to one way of looking at the world, that we ignore the opportunities and possibilities in front of us. This is what causes our products to grow stale and our organizations to stagnate. What we need are “first time eyes” to continuously innovate and maximize potential. Here are some simple tips:
- Accentuate the Positives: Tough times are often the best times to innovate. Unfortunately, if we are caught up in studying the problem, we miss the possibilities. If you’re trapped in a tough spot, spend some extended time listing the positives of the current situation, and then generate ideas on how you can take advantage of those opportunities.
- Bring in Fresh Perspectives: When faced with a problem, schedule a meeting with a diverse group of people who are unfamiliar with your problem. Encourage them to ask as many “stupid questions” as possible to force you to explain your issue in the simplest of terms. This often provides a new frame of reference for your problem, and helps to identify the core issue(s) to be resolved.
- Have the Vision of a Child: Research shows children to be far more creative than adults. Explain your current situation in terms a child would understand, and then spend time brainstorming solutions with the caveat, “How would a third grader solve this problem?” This can open up new insights and perspectives if you don’t judge the ideas prematurely.
At Action Management, we have been helping people innovate for over thirty-five years. If you would like help seeing your challenges through “first time eyes”, just give us a call at 1-800-386-5611.
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