Think Out Of Your Comfort Zone

In our sessions we work with very different kinds of people. They come from different backgrounds, companies and even countries. Each of them with their own unique story, preferences and expertise. While working with all these people we noticed something funny about the way people think.

Although most people are very excited to think “out of the box” they seldom really think “out of their comfort zone”. Most people are so accustomed to the way they think that they never try to think at another level. They are trapped on the first floor of thinking.

It’s completely normal that people develop a favourite way of thinking. In the end we are creatures of habit. Nevertheless, if you want to make full use of your brain’s capacity (and you need to, if you’re in need of innovative ideas) you have to generate and explore different types of ideas.

Some people always seem to have concrete solutions, while others can only dream up big and visionary ideas. Although both ways of thinking are very useful and important, they are on their own not sufficient. They are simply just one part of the solution.

To prevent a Babylon situation, it’s best to start by making a distinction between the two types of ideas. After all you don’t want to compare apples with oranges.

If you’re managing a creative session, challenge participants to climb up and down the abstraction ladder. Make sure everybody hunts for big as well as small & concrete ideas.

If someone is always coming up with vague concepts, ask him or her to turn those into some specific ideas. Let the person give some examples of how it would work in real life.

If a participant is describing all ideas in full detail, challenge him or her to think a little more abstract. Details are important, yet they slow down the stream of ideas. It’s better to keep this phase for the sharpening, strengthening and execution stage.

The sweet spot is when you and your team are able to smoothly switch between the abstract and the specific. Stepping up and down abstraction levels will definitely lead to more and better ideas. 

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