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To Transform Your Business Forget What You Know.

Don’t expect “out of the box” thinking when everyone thinking is inside the box.

Research proves an interesting fact about human nature – the more we hang out with each other, the more we tend to think alike and agree with each other.

This is why it’s so difficult for business leaders to expect and obtain transformative results from their own internal group thinking. The cliché expectation and mandate for the team is to think outside the box.

No matter how smart and capable, people on the inside don’t think like someone on the outside.

Typically when a business is confronted with a growth challenge, the leader will first gather the best minds within the organization to brainstorm ideas and come up with a breakthrough solution.

If the ideas coming from within the internal group are proven to fall short of the breakthrough required to meet the challenge, then business leaders and teams tend to look outside their capabilities to their own industry to see what “innovations “ and “best practices” the biggest brains in the business have done that’s showing results.

Then they simply apply that example as the right solution. The rationale being success leaves clues. Maybe.

It’s easy to see why business leaders and their teams would fall victim to this approach to problem solving and innovation.

It’s just plain ol’ human nature to think like the prevailing winds of the tribe and adopt the known and accepted point of view. We are all predisposed to trusting the conventional wisdom and group thinking of those known to us.

We don’t easily trust and accept the capabilities of knowledge of strangers–really smart people outside the conventions of our tribe.

(To go deeper on this idea, you might like to read “The Necessity of Strangers. The Intriguing Truth About Insight, Innovation and Success”. By Alan Gregerman.)

When it comes to product and brand innovation, this may explain why so many products and brands within an industry or category seem to melt into each other. Seemingly the more alternatives available in a category, the more incremental the product innovation is perceived by the customer.

Eventually new customers perceive little if any difference between competitors, and everyone in the category is equal and forced to compete on price.

To transform your business circumstances to more elevated ones, go outside your own group thinking and look to ideas, perspectives and talents far beyond the borders of what you know.

My advice to all my CEO clients –forget what you know. The world moves too fast.

It’s essential to seek collaborators– better if they come from disciplines and experiences that are outside your wheelhouse.

It’s unreasonable to expect that you and your team will always be capable of solving problems you have no experience in solving. Bouncing ideas of each other won’t cut it if you’re seeking truly remarkable transformative solutions.

You can’t know what you don’t know.

This requires you as the leader of your organization to develop and maintain an unattached point of view. In seeking breakthroughs to your business challenges, move beyond the perspective of your own expertise, experiences and established industry or category norms.

Breakthrough solutions will often lie outside of your world requiring you and your team to stretch your thinking.

Breakthroughs require you and your team to be both realistic and opportunistic as you create strategies to innovate new products and services and create better customer experiences that result in more impact, influence and income in your business.

Imagine the serendipity of collaborating with others who can introduce you to a new world of crazy ideas and contrary perspectives that could lead you to unimaginable innovation and marketplace success.


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