Breaking Out of the Box Thinking
If you feel you need to up the mental input at work, Jared Simmons has the solution.
Albert Einstein was famous for using thought experiments to consider abstract ideas. These were hypothetical situations that would help him to develop simple theories to explain the complex forces in our universe. His theory of special relativity came from considering what would happen if he were to chase a light beam. His understanding of gravity as a form of acceleration came from thinking about an elevator in freefall. Einstein used carefully constructed imaginary scenarios to test the boundaries of the latest thinking in his field. We can do the same for our organizations.
Thought experiments can be a great way to get unstuck, challenge assumptions, and consider the problem from another angle. The key is to fully immerse yourself in the scenario to fully adopt its unique opportunities and constraints. Here a few questions to help you begin to construct your own thought experiments:
What if we had all the time we need?
What if we had unlimited resources?
What if we had an unlimited budget? What if we had a budget of zero?
What if we already knew how to solve this technical problem?
What if our competitor launched this product tomorrow?
What if we lost every patent we have?
How would we launch this product in India? Brazil? Tanzania?
Solving your current problem in these hypothetical environments can expose self-imposed constraints and trade-offs that would otherwise go unnoticed. It expands the field of view for resources, routes to market, and technical solutions. Most importantly, it gives you a fresh perspective on your best-in-class solutions. For knowledge workers there is nothing more valuable than fresh perspective on an old problem.
So give it a try today. Find a quiet place, take your biggest challenge and transport it into an imaginary world governed by different rules. This approach brought Einstein a Nobel Prize—just imagine what it could do for you!
Key points include:
- Lateral thinking
- Fresh perspectives
- Challenging assumptions
Read the full article, How you can experiment like Einstein at work, on Linkedin.