According to Nobel prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling, the best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas. Unfortunately, school teaches us to find the right answer, when actually there is usually more than one right answer for a problem.
When an adult is challenged to come up ideas, he or she typically generates three to six possible solutions. The average child generates 60. We need to be more child-like in our approach to ideas. In the next few posts, we’ll discuss some exercises to help us generate ideas or to look at things from a different – and perhaps, childlike – perspective.
Change The Question
Sometimes just by changing a word or two in a question, you can come up with radically different ideas.
Centuries ago a plague spread across Europe which was almost always fatal. In one town, a person thought to be dead was buried alive. Townspeople wanted to make sure this didn’t happen again. One group proposed putting food and water in every casket and an air hole up to the surface. Their question: “what if we bury someone alive?” Another group suggested placing a 12-inch spike in the coffin lid and aligning it with the victim’s heart. Their question: “how do we make sure everyone we bury is dead?”
Do you have a current problem in which changing the question might help?