Wishful Thinking

When faced with a challenge, there are numerous ways of tapping into your creative potential. Last week I explained how exaggerating can help you reach brilliant new ideas. There are many different thinking techniques that can help you pull your HatRabbits out. Perhaps one of the most fun ones to use, is Wishful Thinking.

When using Wishful Thinking you express a fantasy you’d like to see come true. You express it in a sentence starting with ´Wouldn’t it be amazing if…’ Of course this seems easy enough. You just think about what you want most right? About the ideal situation.

Not quite.

Even ‘Wishful Thinking’ has some rules. One of the rules, is that the solutions you come up with are absolutely UNREASONABLE.

Wait… what?

That’s right. You heard me. Your ideas must be total and utter hogwash. Nonsense. Unrealistic crazy talk. Then, and only then, can Wishful Thinking function as a form of provocation.

Provocation helps you break free from limiting thought patterns. After bringing up a provocative statement, you postpone judgement and you use the absurd statement as a stepping stone to a more realistic outcome. By starting with something bizarre, you are far more likely to come up with something original. Under normal circumstances an idea that is insanely unrealistic will lead to a good laugh at most. Right after the giggle you’d ‘obviously’ discard the crazy idea and continue thinking about more practical ideas. When you use provocation as a tool however, you cultivate absurdity. The more unrealistic the idea, the better. A crazy idea can lead to a brilliant insight that you’d normally never even had considered! Always keep in mind that it’s easier to tone down an absurd idea, than it is to transform a boring idea into something exciting.

Therefore, when using Wishful Thinking as a thinking technique, keep your ideas unrealistic. Don’t let budgets, the laws of physics or the law limit your thoughts. Remember, the crazy ideas you come up with are merely stepping stones to brilliant new ways of resolving your issue.

For most people this can be quite tricky at first. We are simply not used to mentioning unrealistic approaches to a challenge. Our inner critic frowns at us, right before he fiendishly reminds us of the fool we make of ourselves. In an earlier blog we already explained why you should ignore your inner critic. Not always of course. By all means let your inner critic guide your every move when you meet your parents in law for the first time. But when you want to come up with new and innovative ideas? Ignore the limiting son-of-a… bunny.

Let’s end with an example to illustrate how Wishful Thinking can work in a real life situation:

Imagine you are working for a railway-company and you are faced with a well known challenge: travellers complain about trains arriving late. They use Twitter and Facebook to tell the whole world how Railway-company X keeps them waiting for ages in the cold autumn rain. Not the best publicity you can have…

Luckily the board of Railway-company X has recently attended a HatRabbits workshop at which they learned about Wishful Thinking. They decide to give it a go.

‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if… every traveller got paid for every minute he had to wait for his train?’

This would definitely solve the bad publicity. Surely people wouldn’t be complaining about a delayed train if they made money from it. Paying people by the minute sounds a bit expensive though… The finance manager will not be happy if he hears about this plan.

Sure enough, we now have an unrealistic plan to tackle our challenge. How can we use this crazy idea as a stepping stone? What other ways are there to reward people for waiting on the train station? How can we ease the ‘pain’?

Perhaps we can give travellers something fun to kill time while they wait. How about entertaining them during their wait? In a fun and light-hearted session over lunch, the managers come up with the following plan:

On screens on the platform, travellers are provided with short fragments of stand-up comedy. Also a simple game will be developed that train passengers can play against each other on the same screens.

This is but one of the many possible ways to compensate passengers for the time they have to wait. What way would you suggest? Please let me know in the comment box below.

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