How to see differently

A new book from Wharton School Publishing, The Power of Impossible Thinking by Jerry Wind and Colin Crook prompts you to rethink your mental models and transform them to help you achieve new levels of creativity. In this book, the authors give a set of guidelines on how to see differently.

A new book from Wharton School Publishing, The Power of Impossible Thinking by Jerry Wind and Colin Crook prompts you to rethink your mental models and transform them to help you achieve new levels of creativity. In this book, the authors give a set of guidelines on how to see differently:

Listen to the radicals: Listen to the radical thinkers around you and look for the wisdom and opportunities in their “bizarre” ideas. “Who are the radicals in your world and what are they saying to you? What are they seeing that you don’t see? What can you learn from them?”

Embark on journeys of discovery: Look for opportunities to explore new professions, emerging markets and fields of interest.  “Listen to emerging segments of consumers, employees and investors, who can offer fresh perspectives on your organization or industry… Where do you need to travel to see new ways of seeing? What journeys of exploration can you embark on? In what places are the new ideas emerging?”

Look across disciplines: Move beyond the familiar territory of your education and training and cross borders into other disciplines to help you to see your situation from fresh perspectives. “A lot of the progress in different fields is at the intersection of other disciplines. How can you cross the boundaries of your education or practice to see the perspectives from other parts of your organization or other disciplines?”

Question the routine: “Like ocean waves against the beach, routines can lull you to sleep… You need to pay attention to how much you pay attention… Are you awake to the possibilities around you? If not, do something to disrupt your routine, even in a small way.”

Recognize the barriers: Be aware of any barriers that may be preventing you from reconsidering your current mental models, such as a corporate culture that places a high value on maintaining the status quo. “What barriers in the world around you lock you into your current view? What inhibitors and blinders keep you from seeing new models? How can you overcome these obstacles or look over these fences to the world beyond?”

Practice flying upside down: The authors say that routines are reinforced by education and training, making us poorly prepared for experiences and circumstances that are well outside the norm. They explain how commercial airline pilots are now trained in flight simulators on how to react to unusual emergencies, including if the airplane they’re flying becomes inverted while out of control. “What are the equivalents to ‘flying upside down’ in your personal life or career? How can you prepare for events that are far outside your normal experience and require different responses than ‘flying upright?’ How can you expand your education or thinking to see these outrageous scenarios and prepare for them?”

Destroy the old model: Sometimes you need to destroy your old model of thinking to make space to see a new one. “What would happen if you set aside your current model? Without the burden of these ‘legacy systems,’ what could you create in their place?”

Envision multiple futures: “Scenario planning, popularized by the work of Royal/Dutch Shell and many leading practitioners, works from the… direction (of) examining the trends and uncertainties of the current environment and the way these drivers might play out in a set of potential scenarios for the future. What are the potential future worlds you might live in? What mental models will be needed to succeed in each of these future worlds?”

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