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Learning How to See Innovatively

Opportunities are often hidden in plain sight. The obvious is frequently missed because we ignore what’s right in front of our eyes. We could look at, but not see the potential.  To avoid sensory overload,  the backdrop of reality is blurred and we pay selective attention to a fraction of our surroundings. As a result, out of sight becomes out of mind.

Because innovation is born from existing elements – many of which are beyond our conscious periphery – a limited view could be problematic when you’re responsible for generating breakthrough ideas to grow your business, solving problems, or designing creative solutions.


When you learn how to see innovatively, you increase your chances of experiencing more “EUREKA” moments and “AHA!” views of the world. To find a steady flow of unique concepts, develop an innovator’s mindset by focusing with your eyes, seeing with your mind, and empathizing with others.  In turn, you will begin to see things differently and see different things.

Seeing Differently and Seeing Different Things

Our view of reality is personal and not universal.  The way an event is internalized varies by the way an individual interprets, translates, and prescribes meaning to their encounter. This is why what seems obvious, self-evident, or common sense to us could also be considered misnomers and fallacies to others.  The commonality of seeing along similar dimensions of time, space, and matter, however, is shared by all.

Time affects our perceptions through a simultaneous combination of what we are presently experiencing at the moment, with knowledge stored in our short and long-term memories, and what we imagine about the future. 

Place affects our perception by employing a wide distribution of information from closely to distantly related domains of knowledge.

Matter is the subject of focus (e.g. appearance, symbolic representation, material makeup, etc.).

Ways to See

We see what is outside of us, within us, and through others.

When we observe what is outside of us, we view what is within our line of sight through a frame of reference defined by the physical limitations of our periphery and influenced by our mental filters.

Within us, our comprehension, understanding, and judgment are based on our historic knowledge and current values.  Using our mind’s eye, we reference past knowledge we learned indirectly through second-hand sources, such as through books and direct exploration, experimentation, and discovery, from first-hand experiences.  When we wonder, ponder, or postulate about what is unknown, or yet to exist, our mind’s eye activates our imagination to modify the present and conceptualize future possibilities.

Seeing through the eyes of others allows us to broaden our perspective and exponentially expand the solution pool based on multiple points of view. With empathy, we see through the eyes of others and consciously attempt to suspend our own judgments, shift roles and temporarily replace our beliefs, biases, and assumptions to align with theirs.   At this point, we see things differently and see different things.

Sight Biases

The innovative possibilities we see, and points of view about them, are affected by the way our internal filters shape them.  In many cases, our pre-existing conditions, ideas, and experiences limit dilute or distort our vision.  Our perceptions of reality are influenced by our biases, which impact our beliefs, assumptions, knowledge, and labels.

  • Beliefs – Your culture and lifestyle set predetermined boundaries in your reaction and thoughts on most subjects. Even if you feel you are looking objectively, if you step back, you will probably see that you have come to a determination based on blind faith and subjectivity established by your belief system.
  • Assumptions – Assumptions act as unquestioned truths formulated through past experiences.  Most assumptions are accepted at the unconscious level as a baseline of what is, and erroneously classified as facts.  They are an unstated reality that directs all that is built on them.
  • Knowledge – Pre-existing knowledge has the potential of becoming a roadblock or point of impasse when thinking in terms of “right” answers, and the rationale for prematurely discarding ideas based on what you consider possible, good, or correct.
  • Labels – Labels are cursory definitions that generalize and simplify based on their accepted meanings. They can also limit the potential of any given thing.  A round butter knife or a quarter, for example, could both be used to tighten a flat head screw, even if the word “butter knife” is associated with spreading things on bread, and the word “quarter” is associated in terms of currency.

Apply your New Sight to Business

When you deliberately use active sight, your mind’s eye, and empathy to assess problems and find breakthrough solutions, you are well on your way to developing an innovator’s mindset.

You will see more ways to increase revenues, cut costs, and create competitive advantages when you keep an open mind and address the common impediments that stall progress and derail positive momentum.

Learning to see is as much about gaining broader and richer insights as it is recognizing what limits you from doing so.

Innovators are in pursuit of multiple alternatives as opposed to one right answer and selecting the best option only after compiling many potentially correct solutions.

Listen and share objectively and fully, allowing the brainstorming session to include any and all known, theorized, conceptualized, or even fantastic potential solutions.

You now stand at the front end of innovation and are poised to use your new sight to find creative solutions for amazing results.

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