How to Dive into Adventurous Thinking

What if “innovation” wasn’t just another buzzword but the core of your every day creative process? This is where Adventurous Thinking comes in. 

That’s the aim of Sally Dominguez’s “Adventurous Thinking” methodology, which challenges those who create (entrepreneurs, company employees, designers, etc) to make innovation an integral part of their thought process.

The multi-award winning Australian inventor, adventurer, journalist and educator came up with Adventurous Thinking as a more proactive take on design thinking. Design thinking is essentially the methodology used by product designers to solve problems. It’s a unique thought process that has even been applied to tackling life’s challenges by two designers and Stanford University professors, Dave Evans and Bill Burnett.

The emphasis of Adventurous Thinking is on consistent innovation–which is gold for creatives. Her approach brings together the powerful mindsets of the maker, the designer and the disruptor, led by empathy and curiosity. Einstein’s words of wisdom posted on Dominguez’s website say it all: “We can’t solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.”

In her upcoming CreativeLive class, Jumpstart Innovation With Adventurous Thinking, Dominguez leads students on an exploration of the mind, armed with a toolkit that she calls the Five Lenses: negative space, parkour, thinking sideways, thinking backwards and rethinking. Utilizing these basic tenets of adventurous thinking is intended to provoke your mind out of its usual thought process in what you know, or your “default expert neural pathways,” as she puts it.

Here’s the lowdown on the Five Lenses, as defined by Dominguez, to help boost your creativity and innovation skills to a whole new and unexpected level:

Want to incorporate Adventurous Thinking into your own life? RSVP to learn how from Sally Dominguez.

Adventurous Thinking with Sally Dominguez

Negative space

Essentially, negative space is what is NOT the focus of your product. To find out what that is, it requires the very important step of defining both the context and boundaries. Only once these are defined, they can be expanded. Defining this space can be achieved by considering these three dimensions:

–Physical: the measurable space around, between and amidst the product;

–Durational: the measurable time in a specified period the product is not used;

–Perceptional: emotional expectation, what didn’t happen, what wasn’t good.


You may have heard of parkour as a military exercise that involves the most efficient way through an obstacle course. As a part of adventurous thinking, parkour tells us to focus on efficient thinking. It’s about forward progression without ever turning back, and doing so in the most economical way possible. Parkour involves ignoring your expertise and relying only on your general knowledge and experience. The aim of this disruptive thinking strategy is to shed new light on a product or project, or even better, wind up with an “improbable innovation leap.”

Thinking sideways

This is an extension of empathetic thinking and builds awareness of how our personal preferences dictate the way we interact with others, like colleagues and customers. Sideways thinking is valuable for understanding how your personal tendencies might be compromising your decision-making and interactions.

Thinking backwards

With this approach, you can find improvements by understanding the full and various impacts (real, emotional, economic, public perception) of your product or project from cradle to grave. Take it apart to see how the different elements work together, analyze all the inputs and outputs.


This is an extreme lens through which you can rediscover and exploit your core values. What are your product’s properties? What does it do well? What can’t it do well? What might make it better? By magnifying the concept, stripping away non-essentials and giving it greater worth, you can reconsider your project or product.

Remember that putting on your adventurous thinking cap requires more than just getting out of a rut in your routine. It’s about really stepping outside your thinking comfort zone, making yourself bearably uncomfortable, and connecting all of the unrelated the dots to uncover innovation.

Want to incorporate Adventurous Thinking into your own life? RSVP to learn how from Sally Dominguez.

Adventurous Thinking with Sally Dominguez

Suchi Rudra

Suchi Rudra is a nomadic writer of articles, stories and songs, taking inspiration from her travels. Follow her wanderings at Tread Lightly, Travel Naturally.