See Things Differently

I ran across this story earlier this week about Ludwig Wittgenstein in an otherwise awful piece by Paul Monk in The Australian:

A student says to Wittgenstein, “You know, it’s really not surprising that people believed for so long that the sun revolves around the earth, because it looks like that is what happens.” To which the philosopher responded, “Really? So, what would it look like if, actually, the earth revolved around the sun, while turning on its axis?”

One of the key ideas in the business models research is that once a firm develops a successful business model, they tend to replicate it with all of their future innovations. Organisations get stuck in particular business models that become their dominant logic – and this often prevents them from innovating effectively.

Today I have some very simple questions for you: what parts of your business do you completely take for granted? What parts are so obvious that they look just like the sun revolving around the earth? What would happen if you thought of these parts using a different perspective?

If you start taking these questions seriously, you start getting into the area of design-driven innovation. I keep saying that we don’t need more ideas, we simply need better ones. This is one way to get better ideas. Take your foundational assumptions, and find a different explanation for them. This leads to new business models, and this is one of the most effective forms of innovation.

One of the key skills in innovation is seeing things differently. It’s the best way to create novel connections of ideas – and that’s the fundamental creative act in innovation.

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.