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Innovation Insights
by Stephen Shapiro

Innovation and Filters

To Find Better Solutions to Your Challenges, Use This Eye-Opening Technique

Your past experience could be creating blind spots that are limiting your ability to see better opportunities…

In an earlier article, I wrote about why expertise is the enemy of innovation.

Our past experiences blind us to potentially new and different opportunities in the future.

Therefore, we somehow need to shift our view of the world to be open to new perspectives. Unfortunately, this is not always easy.

We see the world through “filters” we have developed over time based on our failures, our successes, our education, our family, and all of the experiences we’ve had during our lifetime. As a result, we don’t see reality.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to “see” your filter. Our view of the world is all we know.Therefore, to shift your perspective, instead of shifting your filter, replace your filter with a completely different one.

Try this. Each morning when you wake up, make believe you are someone different…

Pretend you are a detective, a mechanic, an artist, a gardener. It really doesn’t matter who you are. You will then begin to see things over the course of the day that you have never seen before, because what you focus on expands. By focusing on something different, you will begin to have new experiences and will gain new “dots” that you can use when trying to be creative.

On other days assume the world is a particular way. Look at the world as art, as music, as simplicity. You will see, hear, smell, and sense things you’ve never noticed in the past. Changing your filter, whether on a daily basis or just during specific conversations, can have a profound impact on your view of the world.

This takes no extra time out of your day but will help you see new perspectives that might have been right under your nose.

You can also use this concept when looking to develop creative solutions to a challenging problem. To do this, use the following steps:

  1. Identify a person you want to emulate. You can do this randomly. Or, you can consider people who are from completely different disciplines. The best ideas often come from people outside your industry.
  2. Next, ask, “How would this person solve this problem?” If you were to hire them as a consultant to your organization, what would they suggest?
  3. Then dig deeper. What are the characteristics of this person? How can these characteristics help solve the problem?

If you are stuck for ideas on who to emulate, try this list of people and concepts for starters:

  • Senses: What will customers…hear, see, think, feel, taste, smell, experience
  • Mozart, The Beatles, Madonna, Charlie Parker, sounds, music, harmony, dance
  • Rembrandt, da Vinci, Dali, Frank Lloyd Wright, sights, art, architecture
  • Linus Pauling, Albert Einstein, a professor, science, research, experimentation, knowledge
  • Freud, Tony Robbins, emotions, dreams, pleasure, fears, Freddy Krueger
  • Customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, partners, regulators, mission, value, purpose
  • Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Sir Lawrence Olivier, directing, movies, Broadway
  • Robin Williams, comedy, improvisation, audience, stand-up
  • Dale Earnhardt, Michael Schumacher, a turtle, racing, concentration, speed, slow
  • A cheerleader, children, fun, play, games, sports
  • Houdini, Harry Potter, David Blaine, magic, illusion, misdirection, crazy
  • Tom Clancy, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, books, words, espionage, mystery, history
  • Walt Disney, Edward de Bono, lateral thinking
  • Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, a CIO, an internet start-up, creativity, technology
  • Warren Buffet, a bank, a CFO, ROI, finances, money, investing, creativity
  • A politician (of your choice), an evangelist, negotiation, leadership
  • Friends, family, your favorite teacher, trust, caring, a lifetime relationship

To get more relevant results faster, sometimes it is useful to ask, “Who has solved a similar problem?” For example, if you want to reduce wait time, but can’t find a solution, maybe you can learn a thing or two from Disney World who does an amazing job of making the wait time seem less torturous.

Play around with different filters. I promise you, it will open your eyes to a whole new range of possibilities.

This article was originally published on the Inc. website