Lucy Zucker10 September 2018

‘Think differently!’ How to make sure it’s not a phrase filling airspace

‘Think differently’, says the poster of values as you come out of the lifts and into the office. And while that’s great advice, and the brain is capable of many amazing feats, thinking differently because you’re told to ‘think differently’ is perhaps not one of them.

So how do you actually ‘think differently’? Research shows that thinking from a different perspective drives creativity and problem-solving. Here’s how!

What Would X Do?

If you’ve attended one of Inventium’s training sessions, you might have participated in the exercise ‘What Would X Do?’. The setup is simple. We provide you with a famous character or company (think Disney, Oprah, Batman) and ask you to solve a challenge from their perspective. By solving from another person or organisation’s perspective we see enormously creative solutions. So the next time you’re solving a very difficult problem or trying to come up with a new idea, pick four different people or companies (I usually go for two villains and two heroes to keep it interesting) and spend five minutes on how each would solve that challenge. Suddenly a whole new world of ideas will have opened up!

Think about the customer

Take this one step further and think about your customer. Yes, that might be your buyer, but more often than not this can also include your boss, your direct report, your audience. Think about the challenge from their perspective and solve accordingly.

I loved hearing from a member of Inventium’s Intrapreneur Club recently how they helped another manager in their organisation improve company reporting documents. They asked the manager who was set on a particular presentation format, to put themselves in the shoes of every single person who would look at those dashboards and imagine their reactions. How would each individual leader want the dashboards to look? In this instance, the two managers had fun all but impersonating the reactions of each leader. And bingo – far better feedback and dashboard usage.

What if you saw this challenge for the first time?

In ‘Decisive’ written by some of our favourite authors – Chip and Dan Heath – tell the story of Intel having a ‘grim and frustrating year in which they lost their bearings’. They then describe how when faced with how to turn Intel around the then Chairman and CEO Gordon Moore asked himself: “if we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?”. This switch in perspective provided them the opportunity to find the answer and dominate the microprocessor market.

What ways have you found to be helpful in ‘thinking differently’? Members of Inventium’s Intrepreneur Club have been working together to ensure they’re each doing this day to day and we’d love to know your solutions too! Drop us a line at

And have a great rest of your week!

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