The Adventurous Thinking Mindset
Innovation, at it's key is connecting things in unexpected ways. But the thing is that we don't often in the way that we work in our areas of expertise connect things at all. In fact, if you're working in an area of expertise and specialization you are unlikely to be looking beyond that for answers. Even though now we know with design thinking and other types of creative and lateral thinking that we should be looking outside our area of expertise. There's nothing that actually forces us or bumps us, or prompts us. And we're in a pretty fast-paced world. So if you do want to look outside your area of expertise you're almost having to do it on your own time. Businesses aren't necessarily planning for us to have that time to look outside our area of expertise. And yet, it's key. You know if we're all talking about a business that's large and siloed. We don't just cross-pollinate with the flowers we know. We cross-pollinate with all flowers. But most business systems and most friendship sy...
stems are not set up for us to meet all the flowers. So we have to actually actively get out and grab those flowers and bring them to us. So this is the heart of getting the cross-pollination happening. It's creating structure so that we can go out and find those who aren't our people and learn from them. So I've given you a worksheet that is a creativity quiz. I'd love you to have a look at that quiz, and for those of you that are watching that is a download. There's a couple of worksheets that are downloads. And today the first one we have is creativity quiz and the second one will be innovation quadrant. So on the creativity quiz we've got all sorts of questions. You know your classic, what do you do when you see a rose? I mean, I smell it (laughs). I don't know about you. But the key to this quiz, without blowing the answer here. The key to this quiz is in number three. So who here in this audience considers themselves extremely creative? Extremely. I got three. Okay. And who considers themselves basically not creative? Good. Okay, what's really interesting is that research has proven time and time again if you believe you're creative, you are. Because at the heart of creativity is allowing yourself to think beyond what you know. Your brain is the first thing to shut you down. Your expert brain is the first thing to shut you down. And so, self belief is crucial to being creative. But what's also super interesting, and this is why I'm here. Is that if you don't believe you're creative and you're given the tools and told that they will help you be more creative, you will be measurably more creative than someone that just thinks they are. Your brain is looking for tools. You know it wants to use its entire potential. You know we all want to be that blossoming flower and crazy growing human being. So what we're gonna do is give you the tools. For those of you who didn't put your hand up straight away on extremely creative, have the potential to be way more creative than those who put their hand up in the beginning. This is a good thing. This is not a competition, but you can all win (laughs). So this is this quiz. Have a look at it, but at the heart it's this. You have to believe in your own creativity. So I need you all to put up your hand. Who feels extremely creative? Yes. And thank you (laughs). So, at the heart of being innovative and making unexpected connections is what is happening in your brain. So when we make some connections in our brain, we form neuro pathways. This is all about the plasticity of the brain. Now your expertise means you're basically creating neuro ruts. Because the more expert you are at something the more likely you are to go to that same way of problem-solving every time. So you've created a way of solving problems that's working for you. That's why you've got the job you've got. That's why you're probably incredibly employable. It's cause you're really good at one thing. So every time you go to solve a problem you're gonna head to that type of problem solution. What we want to do is push you into these connections that you haven't made yet. And what's interesting is, research is showing that mice and rats, and let's start with rats shall we (laughs). Rats, as soon as they discover something new, the white matter in their brain reforms. So let's just push that to us. As soon as we discover something new, we start creating new neuro pathways. We have this plasticity that constantly grows us new options. And so our aim is to think outside the expert. Our expert thinking has created the paths we use everyday. But what we're now gonna do is create new neuro pathways. And that feeling is bearable discomfort. It's not comfortable thinking about new stuff. We're not often given permission to like reform, head out in unusual directions, particularly during work time. And it does hurt after a while. Like I do find when I give these workshops that at the end of the day people are exhausted. Cause we're thinking in spaces we don't normally work in. But it's also really exciting when you think about what's forming in your brain as you develop these new neuro pathways. Neuropsychologist Donald Hebbs says, "Neurons that "fire together, wire together." So we're basically gonna rewire several times over and you'll feel it. Hopefully you'll share with me when you feel it. Because I get excited when new people discover this new way of thinking. So the key is though, to bump out of expertise. So I'm gonna give you a little exercise. I want you to think of an elephant. So when we think of an elephant usually we straight away think of the big gray guy with the trunk. Really obvious distinguishing characteristics trunk, ears maybe. The bulk, we may think of the size. We may think of the color. Alright all of this is stuff we know. So when we straight away say, "think of an elephant," we straight away go to what we know. It's just logical. This is expert thinking. This is where we don't want to be. So, what I need you to do now is think like a visionary. What would happen if I said, "think like an elephant, but think in the area "of possibility and imagination?" What would you think of? Where do we go? Do we go to Ganesh, maybe? Do we go to Dumbo? How does that guy even fly? We're looking for the possibilities of elephant. See how it's not normal? We always immediately go to what we know. We have to actually push ourselves to think about what we don't know, but what could be possible. Imagine if you went into a science class and instead of saying to the kids, "oh hey, "think of an elephant, what does an elephant do" and we do a whole biology thing, we said, "think of an elephant "like how could you make an elephant fly "with their ears?" Could you? You know it's really interesting with elephant. That there's a lot of biomimicry around animals. Biomimicry, being when we take an animal or a plant key characteristics and we turn it into a robot or some other application that solves problems for humans. There are a lot of robots built around elephants. There's one in particular that's used in medicine. That uses the movement of the trunk with four claws on the end to have that movement in any direction really flowing, fantastic use of angles. It's an incredible piece of biomimicry and this came from the possibility of elephant. What would elephant be if it was a machine? So where we need to work is with visionary. We need to push ourselves to think past what we know in this case about elephant, and into what could it be. Right, so there are a couple of key parts of the adventurous thinking mindset that I want to share with you. And this is one of my favorites, Jim Henson did not love muppets, people. So everybody constantly quotes back at your Steve Jobs, "you've got to love what you do, "you've got to have passion." Even though Steve Jobs and a graduate degree had nothing to do with computing. In fact he took the job with the Atari apparently because it said, "have fun while you work." So it was a little more than loving computers, right? And perhaps that's why we got some of that incredible ground breaking stuff from Apple. So Jim Henson wanted to be on TV. And yet, he became the guy who totally reinvented communication between generations by using muppets. I find this a really really important part of the adventurous thinking mindset. We don't have to love what we do. We can be incredibly good at something without personally loving it. And in fact, that gives us a really important and useful point of view. You just think of the insight you can give to friends when they've got a problem that's really killing them and you're not really committed to it all. You're able to give them amazing advise from the outside. We can actually do that with any job. Or with anything or any task that we set our mind to. We don't have to love it to be incredibly good at it. And that's part of the adventurous thinking mindset, part of the Five Lenses. Is we use these lenses much as Edward de Bono uses his six hats philosophy. We use these lenses to give us a particular point of view outside our own biases and emotions. So you don't have to love what you do and you can still be incredibly creative and incredibly innovative doing pretty much anything once you have this mindset. Another super important part of the adventurous thinking mindset, always say yes. Obviously. And of course always saying yes also means a nice disregard for people saying no to you. So my whole career has been built around saying yes. I've rallied when I didn't know how to drive on sand. I've designed products and invented new finishes in plastic because I didn't know any better. Saying yes is as much about saying "no" to no as it is to saying yes. The importance is, and especially for women, always jump in and say yes and work it out later. You don't have to love it. You can still do a great job at it. It's about that mindset and it's about that disregard for failure. This one from Robin Williams is key, too. In adventurous thinking, we need five minutes. So the whole system relies on you spending an entire five minutes thinking through a lens. So you need to apply everything you have for five full minutes. And most of that will be struggling against your expert brain telling you it's a bad idea. So the five minutes and the spark of madness, the not losing it, is about not letting your own brain shut you down before you've given yourself the full time to think something through. And this is at the heart of adventurous thinking. You have to give yourself five minutes per lens. Which is nothing in a full day. In fact my time management guru, Dan Markovich tells me that five minutes out of my day is absolutely fine as long as I'm not in the middle of something else. But that spark of madness needs to endure for enough time for you to think through, "ha ha ha that's a crazy idea" and discard into and now what can I do with it. How can I make some connections to make it a reality and make it innovation. This is a key, too. Because so often we settle for what we know. Again, Michelangelo is addressing knowledge. We aim low because we're really comfortable with what we know. We're uncomfortable with what we don't know. But the whole adventurous thinking mindset is about bearable discomfort. It's about, not being comfortable, but actually loving that feeling because it's really exhilarating. And as long as you don't fear failure, it's fantastic. You have growth. You have no fear. So why settle? We've gotta leap for the possibilities and think up the stuff that has not been thunk. And this of course. This is one that when I'm teaching, I do a lot of teaching with teenagers and with their teachers. In Australia, innovation has been mandated across the curriculum. And teachers don't know how to implement it because they're like, "well what is this thing "you call innovation? And how do I bring it to "math, science and language?" I start by saying, "perhaps you should show "the parents this quote." That imagination is about the future. It's about the possibilities that haven't happened that will bring us into the next era. And particularly, you know when you think about right now we're in an era of massive change. Nothing is as it was. And in fact, knowledge is less irrelevant than ever. Cause any massive company with a big five year plan that's half-way through it right now is going, "not what we were thinking was gonna happen." Right, we're on the edge of this big thing. No one quite knows what's next. It's a perfect time for adventurous thinking. It's a perfect time to understand that actually possibility and imagination is for this moment. It is the future.
The rise of design thinking has revolutionized the way we solve problems—helping us open our minds, embrace our imaginations and be more innovative. But what if we could take the design thinking process to an even higher level? What if we could be less reactive and more proactive in our thinking?
Award-winning inventor, journalist, educator and speaker Sally Dominguez created the adventurous thinking methodology to promote an agile mindset, which is necessary for consistently innovative practices. Even the best of us can get stuck in our default “expert” neural pathways. Adventurous thinking helps us get out of those ruts, reignite our curiosity and tap into the underutilized parts of our brains.
This two-day course introduces the Five Lenses—negative space, parkour, thinking sideways, thinking backwards and rethinking—which Sally has used to help some of the biggest corporations, organizations and government agencies throughout the world integrate innovation into their work. By the end, you’ll have the tools you need to transform your thought processes and explore true innovation.
In this class, you’ll learn how to:
- Harness your curiosity to think outside the probable and explore the possible.
- Use multiple perspectives to achieve a deeper understanding.
- Experience “bearable discomfort” to force your neural pathways to open up.
- Disregard small daily failures at home and at work.
- Get your radical ideas accepted by others.
- Know what you don’t want and why that’s important.