Great Minds Don’t Think Alike
Disrupt Routines & Transform Your Work
Recently, I jumped into a cab in New York City. After 25 minutes of driving, the driver turned around and asked me if I knew how to get to my destination. Alarmed, I said, no, and asked if he could consult his GPS? He chuckled and told me that he doesn’t use any mapping or GPS device because it limits his creativity.
While I was taken aback by his approach and questioned his timing, I realized he’s right. When you use your one best method to get anywhere, you never really learn or explore anything new. To be indispensable, a great cab driver would want to know all the different routes to get around (even the hard to reach or dangerous ones). In fact, to compete with influences like Uber, it may be the only way for a cabbie to survive.
Much like driving, most productive people rely on similar routines to stay organized. In the name of efficiency, many people move from the known to the known, never challenging the status quo . . . and ultimately sink into mediocrity.
Doing anything without direction is intimidating, but it can deliver surprising answers to our most pressing problems. Trying a new process or a new route may take a few minutes longer the first time, but to never try a new process or a new route means never finding a better way.
There are approaches that you can take to jumpstart innovation at work:
Create Routines that Frustrate You. Like the cab driver, forcing yourself to take a different route or reverse a routine is a sure way to reveal new ideas. Disrupting your routine will be unfamiliar, slow you down, and irritate you. It will also force you to look at the entire process differently. Hold meetings in the morning instead of the afternoon, review emails later in the day, consider scrapping or rewriting certain policies, approach a problem in a new way, etc.
Work Backwards. If you can start with the end in mind and visualize the final result, you can see things fall into place. Instead of following a linear approach, ideas can flow from anywhere, and they are certain to be linked to your goal.
Take Jumbled Notes. Over the years, I have followed Julia Cameron’s method in the Artist’s Way to come up with new ideas. This involves filling up 3 pages of stream of consciousness with no restraint, thoughts about anything that perplexes me. Over time, I muck around with those jumbled thoughts and ideas until patterns emerge and something interesting starts to flow. Often I find relationships that I never realized and solutions that were never apparent.
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Have Lunch with a New Crowd. Lunchtime is a great routine to disturb. Recently, an HR professional explained that she took lunch an hour later and ate in the cafeteria for the first time in years. She met new people and through the conversation was able to create valuable changes to the employee wellness program. Her lunchtime shake-up produced valuable results, and yours may, too!
Play and Have Fun. When we play, we activate the creative parts of the brain that make coming up with new ideas easier. Play is inventive and unique. Play allows us to more openly explore new possibilities. Fear and uncertainty kill new ideas, but play puts us into a place where it’s okay to fail. Use any play items within your grasp (stapler, paper, markers, Lego, pencils, scissors) and create anything you can to make the day more fun, and creative ideas will more easily flow.
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