Want Fresh Ideas? Try This.

In these competitive and uncertain times, most of us long for that bold, fresh idea that will shake things up and drive meaningful progress. Yet great new ideas can feel harder to find than a five-leaf clover. We stare at the same problem – with the same set of eyes and the same perspective – and then wonder why our ideas fall short.

To shake things up, I love using a simple technique that I simply call The Different Lens. As the name suggests, the tactic involves generating solutions from the perspective of someone else.

Let’s say you’re a Realtor trying to drum up new clients. It’s a crowded and competitive field, so your first instinct may be to study the best practices of other Realtors. The problem is that we can get caught in our industry’s echo-chamber, with originality suffering as a result. Using The Different Lens, you might ask how a Hollywood agent might solve the problem? How about a hotel manager? Or a tech billionaire? The best new way to snag homebuyers may actually arrive from the most unlikely perspective.

If you’re looking for fresh inspiration, think how other people in different fields or roles might approach the situation. Here are some fun ones to take for a test drive:

Criminal defense attorney
Wheat farmer
Industrial ball bearing manufacturer
Greeting card designer
Ski instructor
Commercial fisherman
Rocket scientist
Funeral director
3D animator
Cosmetic surgeon
Airline pilot
Police detective
Ursula the sea witch
Fred Flintstone
Alien from the planet Zoltar

The notion of looking at the problem you’re trying to solve from a different lens can quickly unlock fresh thinking and bold creativity. Not to mention, it gives you a hall pass for any responsibility. After all, that crazy idea didn’t come from YOU… it came from a celebrity chef with an Eastern European accent.

Next time you’re frustrated with ho-hum ideas, get unstuck by looking at the situation with a different lens. You’ll be blown away at just how different your results will be.

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