By consciously shifting your perspective, you counter normal tendencies to stick with what you know either because you believe you're the expert or out of comfort with the familiar. This technique has two benefits: It can generate a solution to an immediate need and cultivate a new habit of mind. The goal is to find several alternatives in any situation.
To begin, start idea meetings with a quick exercise to help people practice looking at things in different ways. Take a picture from the newspaper, and ask people to come up with different explanations of what's happening in the picture. Though it's usually a fun exercise, the message is serious: You're signaling to your team you want them to behave differently and to practice generating more possibilities.
Then take one of your products or services. Think about its most central feature or what makes it successful. Then reverse it. For example, one of the basic assumptions about restaurants is that they sell prepared meals. What would a restaurant look like if it didn't sell prepared meals? What if the customers cooked the food? Another assumption is that restaurants are housed in a building. Maybe offering picnic baskets would be a good business idea.
Reversing current beliefs could lead to new ideas about how to develop your business. And generating several options to meet each challenge gives you greater flexibility.
Juanita Weaver is a creativity coach and consultant. Tell her how your company sparks creativity at firstname.lastname@example.org.