Innovation Isn’t Found in Conventional Relationships
Finding similarities between different things is key to formulating creative solutions. It’s not surprising to find connections between things that are compatible, alike, or complimentary to each other. Breakthroughs occur when seemingly unrelated elements from diverse domains are brought together in an unexpected context or frame of reference. Interestingly, once the radical idea is embraced and adapted, the initial surprise of its unique combination only seems natural. This occurrence can partially be explained by our natural fixation on what an object is “supposed to be” based on its historic, prevailing and accepted definition.
A rounded butter knife, for example, is used to spread butter and is considered within the context of food and a table setting. But in absence of a flat head screwdriver, a butter knife could work equally well to loosen or remove a screw. This isn’t very surprising when you look at the essence of what makes a screwdriver and what makes a butter knife. Both are made of metal, both have a handle, both are flat at their tip, and they both could fit in a flat head screw to tighten or loosen it. Because a butter knife is considered a dining utensil associated with soft and smooth edibles (butter, margarine), and a flat head screwdriver is considered an industrious tool, thought of in terms of dusty construction sites and unsanitized settings, the two aren’t often displayed, seen, or thought of together in conventional circumstances.
Things That Are Different Can Also Be the Same
While those who consider a butter knife and screwdriver “different” are correct, they are no more accurate than others who see them as similar when comparing their characteristics. From this
example, it’s easy to see either the differences or similarities …depending on your perspective. To look at things in consensus with the norm is to confine your efforts within the parameters of their standard definitions. When you break free from the fixations of perceptions driven by the influence of their definitions, traditional usages, and anticipated applications, the easier it is to see the potential through novel connection, combination and transformation.
“Just because it is, doesn’t mean it has to be” Morris Sneor.
When looking for a creative solution, a creative design or a breakthrough idea to make your website stand out or function in a unique way, keep these points in mind.
- When trying to solve a problem or create something new or different for your company, look with intent to find its essence. Recognize, what you are really looking at in objective terms. Do you see a butter knife or a flat piece of polished metal?
- Think about what you are trying to accomplish before deciding on a method or means of achievement. This will help you find the root of the problem. Premature judgments that lead to obvious solutions occur when the problem is considered so simple and not worth a second thought. When you only consider alternatives within the same domain as the original problem, the results are usually flat, predictable, and safe. By understanding the bare essence of what you are looking it, you could cross domains, unconventional inspirations to stretch your universe of options, beyond the obvious.
- Once you understand the goal you’re trying to accomplish, broaden your focus from the tools in front of you and see how you can turn the mundane butter knife into the tool you need.
How you see what’s in front of defines your ability to flip your perspective on how your options can be used together to find creative, novel breakthrough answers. Make the effort to think beyond the pre-existing notion of how things are “supposed to be” and open the potential for innovative creativity for additional alternatives you may never have considered before.