Changing Lenses for Innovation and Creativity
Welcome back from the weekend. If you took on the weekend challenge, I hope you had fun turning your to-do list on its side and mixing things up a bit! If you missed it, you can find it here: Day 0.
Now on to Day 1 of the 5x5x5 Innovation Genius Bootcamp!
I enjoy making up sayings, some of which I end up carrying with me for years because they seem meaningful on so many different levels. One of those is:
“What you focus on, comes into focus.”
I use this at work, at home, in my community, and yet again, it seems unexpectedly meaningful when we’re talking about innovation and creativity. Let me explain.
You know when you see professional (or aspiring) photographers swapping lenses between shots? There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with the lens they were using, but they wanted a different outcome. The photographer knows that the shift in perspective offered by the new lens will make space for a new and different outcome.
The photographer also knows that continuing to look through the same lens while standing in the same spot is guaranteed to give them just about the same outcome, even if they stand on their heads! (Sound familiar?)
So how do the rest of us take on a different perspective when we’re dealing with the same old project, product, or team?
One simple practice is to swap out the lens by stepping in to an entirely different industry. Literally.
The pivot to viewing cancer as a “systems malfunction” vs a “cellular malfunction” came from a conversation between a USC cancer researcher (Fighton!) and a Disney computer scientist. Magic happened when they applied a new lens, in this case, a new profession, to an old set of frustrations.
Here’s your Day 1 challenge of the 5x5x5 Innovation Genius Bootcamp:
Take a moment to bring to mind a frustrating challenge that hasn’t been managed to your satisfaction. Now, pick an unrelated industry or role and revisit the challenge from that perspective. It might sound like:
How would an attorney, architect, or astronaut address the pandemic?
What would a kindergarten teacher say about your employee engagement challenge?
What ideas would a video game designer have to share about race relations in the US?
How might the movie industry address voter turnout?
Hint: Feel free to swap your challenging problem in for the underlined examples above.
Extra credit: How can you apply this new lens to an important but challenging or stagnant relationship in your personal life?
The point here is NOT to come up with a plausible solution, but rather to find a creative way to further explore the challenge. One that could overcome hidden assumptions and old ways of thinking, and open the door to new ways of considering the challenge and an unlimited set of possibilities.