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Jumpstart Innovation with Adventurous Thinking

Lesson 13 of 37

What is the Parkour Lens?

Sally Dominguez

Jumpstart Innovation with Adventurous Thinking

Sally Dominguez

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Lesson Info

13. What is the Parkour Lens?

Lesson Info

What is the Parkour Lens?

We are up for my favorite lens, the funniest lens, parkour. And when I say, "Parkour," nobody jumps out of their seats, which worries me, alright? (laughing) Cause you have a fear of failure. Parkour is really hard. I can't do parkour. But it is an amazing thing. Parkour, it, of all the lenses, this is the one that truly throws you outside what is real. Outside your reality, at least. And pushes you far, far, into the possible, and the imaginative. Based on this concept, Morticia Adams, bless her. That nothing is really normal. Our normal is not someone else's normal. So why are we worrying about normal at all? Let's just go straight to it and invert everything. It's sort of interesting, I mean, it used to be that that was like, "Oh, yeah, that's a good point, it's chaos," but you don't really think about it that way. However, we're in a world right now, where chaos is reigning. We have political systems that are changing, economies, the social structure is changing, nothing is as it e...

ver has been. In fact, some people talk about it being the next industrial age. You know we had this rapid movement in unexpected directions, what better tool then, than a parkour lens. So, this one is fun, it's also, you know, we've gone from a negative space lens, which is possibly the easiest to utilize, to parkour, which is hard. It's hard thinking, but it's also joyous. Because much like parkour people, you are leaping into the unknown and we now have a healthy disregard for small daily failure so we don't care. And it's a beautiful thing when you don't care about the small stuff. So everything we're gonna try, everything we're gonna invert, you know, if it fails, if it falls flat on its face, it's an awesome and fun experience. Which means it's basically a win-win. And if it gets up, then you're basically coming up with a system no one else has ever come up with before. So parkour very much is about systems, it can be products, but it can also be totally new ways of doing things, by fully inverting them. And parkour comes from this, you may have seen it at the start of like, a James Bond movie or you may have seen the American version of the Office, which does its own episode around parkour, has anyone here seen the Office? Parkour? Oh, so funny. So the Office parkour is when someone has seen this fantastic French, began as a military training type of discipline. Parkour comes from the French "parcours," which literally means, "the way through," or "the path." And it's all about efficient moving forward. Never double thinking it. Never looking and worrying, it's just like, out of confidence to proceed in this incredibly efficient, amazing movement, pretty amazing. Of course in the US version of the Office, a bunch of office workers decide that parkour just means jumping from a tall building down onto a box, which is inevitably disastrous. Cool, because failure is not a problem. Could have hurt. But parkour, for us, is about the pure confidence of thinking freely. More than any other lens, parkour is about looking at this list of seemingly impossible things and making it somehow work. We never think first, we don't worry about failure, we just go. And if you think of the innovation quadrant, parkour is way up in that extreme corner of we don't know the market, we don't know the tech, this is brand new stuff. Now more than ever, super, super relevant. So I'm excited to bring it to you. And this, MC Escher, one of my favorites. We really do need to be working in that area of, look at this action, look at what we're gonna try and achieve, and your first reaction should be, "that's impossible, that's ridiculous." Better still, "that's a complete waste of my time." That's your expert brain letting you know that where you're about to go is, indeed, uncharted territory. Right? So listen to it, and then go, "thanks for that," and keep going. This is our five minutes. You will spend a good 30 seconds, at least, grappling with your expert brain. Which would be trying to throw itself in front of you and stop you from proceeding. Because parkour truly is way into the realm of imagination. But it is where true innovation comes from, too. So work with me, don't be afraid. It's gonna be fantastic. We're just gonna practice it a couple of times to really get the feeling. Because this more than anything is where you will self-censor. And you have to think huge. And you have to assume failure. You know, we've talked about, with failure, the idea that you acknowledge it's gonna happen, and then it really doesn't matter. You just build it in. So we're literally gonna build in failure for parkour, because so much of the time, you might try to leap from building to building, you're gonna smush down in the middle and land on a car. Just is. So we're just gonna accept it. Alright, so the key to parkour inversion is this. We have to know what it is we wanna disrupt. Now an interesting thing about the parkour lens, is parkour does not require a problem. In fact, inversion thinking works best on stuff that is just going fine. That means we can invert any part of anything any of you do. Just for fun. Just for giggles. We could basically take what I'm doing right now, Sally wants to teach a class on adventurous thinking, would be our heading. And then how do you normally do it, would be what I'm doing right now, listed. And then one by one, I will fully invert those. And then I'll stand back and look at this mess on a plate and go, "Now what is it?" I still want to achieve this goal on the top. I still want to teach my class. But I'm not gonna do any of those actions. I'm gonna do the exact opposite. So what's it gonna be? And it is at this point when you consider there's two parts that can go horribly wrong. The first part, I like to think of it as my Stanford Business School MBA Graduate part. This is when someone thinks they're super, super clever, and they go, "I want to do this, how do you normally do it?" They write down all their normals, they invert the first one, and then they go, "Oh, totally get it, I've got it, I've got the answer." And they roll off the first one and come up with something that's normally been done before. Not what we're doing. What we're doing is using a little patience and time to make this truly inverted and truly disruptive. We are inverting all three or five, if you can come up with five norms, standing back, looking at the confusion that clearly will happen if we use those inversions, and then using our five minutes, 30 seconds of it, to talk ourselves into doing the rest. 30 seconds to talk across our expert self, four and a half minutes to look at those inversions and actually make them real. So the first thing that could go wrong is you invert the first thing and invert the rest, that's not a parkour solution, that's just a partial. And the second thing that could go wrong is, you look at the inversions and tell yourself it will never work. It will always work, it just might fail. You will come up with something, and you have to really, really push, because you'll look at inversions of everything you know works, and you won't understand what that is cause it doesn't exist yet. It's really simple, but it's also kind of confuddling. You've gotta work through that. But one other thing that can go wrong, is if what you want to do is too broad. So for instance, I wouldn't say, "I want to invert real estate," because that's too broad. I can't have specific actions and specific inversions on something so huge. But I could say, "I'm gonna invert the way I sell my house." And then it would be, what do I want to do? I want to sell my house. How would I normally do it? Well, let's see. I'd clean it up, I guess, so it looks good. I'd open it for inspection to the public. I'd maybe get an agent. I'd spread the word. So the inversion on that might be, I don't clean it up, I leave it messy as anything. I don't let anyone I don't know inside it. I don't get an agent, I don't tell anyone. I still want to sell my house. But this is how I'm gonna do it. It's messy, it's private, I don't tell anyone, only my friends are coming in, only people I know. So how am I selling my house? We look at it and go, "I dunno how you're selling your house." But there are a couple ways I could do it. I could be, in fact, Air BnB'ing, and I could say to every single guest that comes in, "What I need you to do is spread the word "to all your friends, this house is amazing, "and it's for sale." I could be spreading the word on renovator sites and just go, "You know what, my house is for sale, "it's an absolute dump." Or I could just be trying to sell it in different ways. I could be going to groups of people and saying, "You know how you can't afford a house? "Well this is a dump and you should just "move in for awhile and see how you like it, "and then if you like it we can maybe work..." You know there are all sorts of things you can do once you accept all of those inversions as a blob. Right, if you just take one of them it's too easy to come up with an answer and it's usually something that's been done before. So I've got some examples to help your brain through this. Firstly, I want you to think of the camping kettle. Do we have campers here? We're in the Bay Area, we have to have campers. Of course we do. I'm a glamper myself. So my kettle would be like, plugged into something, but that's cool. So good, we can be boiling soup, I don't know. So think of the camping kettle. We're going to invert this, I'll just talk you through it. So what are you looking for, if you have a camping kettle? What are you the defining things? You've got something that's going to boil water. What are you looking for in a camping kettle, hit me? So it needs to be able to sit over a fire and boil. Maybe needs a handle. Needs to be robust, I think, but also light, like we don't want it to, obviously, break, but it also has to be light cause some of you actually walk your camping gear into places, I have heard. (laughing) In which case, you know, it's dangling off your backpack. So we're thinking of a camping kettle. And essentially, our activity is, we want to boil water over an open fire in a remote location. Right? The guy who won the Lexus Lifestyle Awards several years ago designed an origami paper kettle. It was beautiful. It was based on the fact that paper burns at a higher temperature than water boils. So that you could have that water boiling and the paper will be fine. It was the most elegant design, it folded up in his pocket, it had no handle. You picked it up by these little folded bits over here. And you could either recycle it or burn it. Depending on what you wanna do with it. Seriously beautiful, cannot show you a photo. (laughing) So you have to look it up. But it's amazing because it actually redefined camping kettle, whilst sticking to the basic activity. All you really want to do is boil yourself some water over a fire in a remote location. Or consider this one. The last big concert I went to was Kanye. Just before he went off on his crazy, crazy spree of political stuff. I want you to think about a normal rock concert. What do you expect? If you say, "I am going to a normal rock concert," what are you expecting? What are the norms? What's the setup? I pay money, there's a crowd, there's a focus, there's a stage at the front. I can see the band really clearly, cause they're elevated, I can see the whole band, there are lights on the band, and the musicians are front and center. Maybe I've paid more money to be at the front so the closer I am, the more I paid. And there's a structure, where maybe there's a mosh pit at the front but generally, I'm seated back, facing the stage, right? Go to a Kanye concert. Everybody has paid the same amount of money to be in the middle, and he is up on this crazy magic carpet floating platform that is ducking and weaving, he's in this harness cause it's angled and crazy. Half the time he's above us and all we can see are the guts of the stage. We can't even see the performer, we can't see the band. The backing singer, when she's singing, and she sounds great, is in complete darkness. This is completely in the round and not only is it theatre in the round, but it's above us. And so what happens is, the crowd that would normally be fairly inert for the mosh pit, is moving like a school of fish underneath this floating stage. So this magic carpet with this singer on top yelling out all his stuff, is moving from one end of the arena to the other, and all the people underneath are moving like this school of fish back and forth. And actually that sense of community underneath that stage was crazy. Plus people were leaping up and trying to hang off it, it was the most crazy thing. And I thought, A, how did he get away with this? Like, seriously, it's so dangerous. But it's so much fun. And it was so cool because you were actually moving with people, so as well as dancing, there was this sort of whooshing of people from one end to the other. It was a complete re-think of the way you would stage a musical experience. Definitely parkour. The classic example of parkour is Red Bull. So those of you who are old enough to remember the Coke/Pepsi taste test. I think I was a kid, I don't remember. The Coke/Pepsi taste test, was all about, you had Coke and Pepsi, it was all about tasting good, huge can, cheap price, and all the advertisements were either celebrities, beautiful, or just generally beautiful people, like if you were having a party and you all felt like you were fantastic, feeling yourself, and then you go, "Oh, we feel like we're in a Coke ad." So this was the scene onto which Red Bull came. Red Bull fully inverted the norms. Tiny can, high price, tastes super weird, "gives you wings," whatever that means. And has nothing to do with beautiful people, just sponsors super extreme, crazy events. People wanting to do amazing, sporty things. Get Red Bull. You never even really see them with a can in their hand. It's nothing like that, it completely inverted the landscape of not only what a soft drink was, but how it was marketed. And that was an amazing example of parkour. That really, in terms of the innovations quadrant, took it off the chart, and rebuilt the landscape of soft drinks and energy drinks. So that is parkour in a nutshell.

Class Description

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.


Ivana Vucinic

This class is truly AMAZING! It is really unique and it got me thinking in new and innovative ways. Very much out of the box thinking! Makes you become courageous, Well done, Sally!!!

Sukey Dominguez

Jumpstart Innovation with Adventurous Thinking exceeded my expectations! Sally brought practical tools that, "lenses" to flip every situation inside out and find the possibilities in every situation. As one who works to lead teams, healthcare providers facing incredible demands to achieve results in population health / ultimately global health and the wellness of business operations, I'm thrilled to have found this course. Design is one thing, taking risk is another. I'm inspired by Sally because she drives energy to see what CAN be in the future. This is a unique class and I look forward to her next offering.