As Albert Einstein noted, a problem cannot be solved within the same frame of reference in which it was created. This does not mean that we have to employ Einstein’s methods and shift ourselves into outer space or become time travellers, it simply means that our problem must be reframed or looked at in a new way. You can get someone else to look at your problem or just change your own perspective.
My good friend Gerardo Porras, based in Mexico, created a very useful metaphor for this very situation. We are inside our house looking out and what we see is governed by the shape of the window and the colour of the glass. To add to this metaphor, our view through the window is also governed by the laws of physics, we can only see what is in our line of sight so to look in a different direction we must choose a new window.
We could of course leave our ‘house’ and take in all of the scenery by turning around and looking in every direction. If we were exploring then that is exactly what we would do, but within organisations we need to make decisions and too much information can make those decisions difficult to take. So whilst we might need to change the way we look at a problem in an organisation, generating too many options or business ideas may be unhelpful.
So how can we change our perspective in a simple way? There are many creative techniques that you can use, many of which are known by different names but you can use the some of the approaches below:
- Random stimulation – introduce a random or bizarre objector thought which will give your brain a shock (what happens if I paint it yellow?)
- Experience the problem – create a model and walk around inside it
- Look at the problem boundaries and then change them or blur them
- Increase or decrease the amount of knowledge available – introduce your problem to older people or even children
Once you get the idea, you can soon work out your own ways to change your perspective.