Looking for a creative solution? Switch jobs.

Are you desperately looking for creative solutions? Then be aware that you might be trapped by your own way of thinking. Your professional experience might be blocking you from seeing the solution. The key to remarkable solutions often lies outside your own field of expertise, yet luckily well within reach.

Your expertise limits your creativity

We all have our own way of looking at things, shaped by our day-to-day job experience. The more knowledge and experience you gain, the less original your ideas tend to be when it comes to challenges in your field of expertise. It will get harder and harder to avoid the ‘obvious’ approaches. After all, you know exactly what has worked in the past. That’s what makes you the expert.

Splendid as this may be in the usual situations (which ‘simply’ require expert knowledge), it is less than ideal in the circumstances which require creativity: the as-of-yet unencountered situations. In completely new situations, the old knowledge of the expert is often useless. Worse than useless, actually, as it inhibits creative thoughts and blocks the way to ‘unusual’ solutions.

Does this mean the expert is completely helpless in the face of an unknown problem? No. Luckily there are ways to break through well established thinking patterns. All you have to do is change your perspective. This may sound more challenging than it actually is. There are several simple tricks to change one’s perspective.

In an earlier post, I described how looking at your challenge through the eyes of someone else can lead to excellent insights. Imagining how someone (in)famous would try to solve your challenge can lead to wonderfully creative solutions.

In this article, I’d like to share a slightly easier alternative to this technique.

Switch jobs

An easy trick to break out of your limiting thinking patterns, is to ask yourself: how would someone who works in an entirely different field look at my challenge?

By switching to another professional’s point of view, you allow yourself to see your challenge from another (and often very surprising) angle.

Just imagine solving your challenge as a banker, circus clown, soldier, policeman, secret agent, bartender, hairdresser or politician.

How would ‘changing jobs’ change the way you look at your challenge? Does it help you to discover new values? Does it change your beliefs? Does it influence the way you look at your stakeholders? Can you do something with your new job’s working methods?

For example, if your challenge is to attract new talented employees, other jobs might lead to ideas such as: (banker) improve your rewards system; (circus clown) make it more exciting to work at your company, or communicate how fun it is; (soldier) create a challenging mission to find the best candidate for a new job position, or give the applicants a challenging mission to filter out the most promising ‘recruits’; (bartender) express how the job you’re offering is the perfect cocktail of everything you want in a job, etc. 


Does the exercise above help to look at your challenge in another way? Please let me know in the comment box below!


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