Friday, April 18, 2014


The moment you invest a bit of yourself into something, you start overvaluing it. My personal experience started with IKEA furniture a long time ago. I’m not particularly good at assembling things, it takes me a long time, I make all kinds of mistakes. When I finished assembling the four truly mediocre pieces of furniture I had bought from IKEA when I was a student, I was actually incredibly proud of it. I kept moving it with me from city-to-city, apartment to apartment as I would keep on moving, renting a truck to carry all those pieces (still put together as I was afraid I would not be able to put them back together if I dismantled them), while the objective quality and cost of it did not support that. I started wondering whether my love of it was due to my investment of time and energy.

Let’s imagine another scenario. Imagine I come to you to ask you if you would sell me your kids? How much money would you charge me if I wanted to buy your kids, take all your memories, and I promised to give them a good home? As long as these are not teenagers, you would probably respond “lots of money”. Because you can’t see your lives without your kids. Now, imagine a different place. Imagine you don’t have kids. You go to a park, you meet two kids, you play with them for a few hours… they are wonderful little kids. After a couple of hours, you are ready to say goodbye, but before you said so, the parents tell you, “by the way they are for sale. Are you interested?” How much would you pay for those kids? Chances are that you wouldn’t pay much for the kids, because they aren’t yours.

When we get involved emotionally because of complexity, feelings, time or money invested, we lose our ability to think.

We have to disrupt the way we think. To keep up with this wacky, ever-changing world, we need to change and upgrade our thinking, we need to think funky.

Are we in control of our own decisions?

Let’s do a test. Look at the grid above. How many squares do you see? How you arrive at the answer can make a big difference in what you find.
In the first "systematic" analysis, we can find 30 squares. 

16 (1x1 squares) + 9 (2x2 squares) + 4 (3x3 squares) + 1 (4x4 square) = 30 squares.
The squares were always there, but you didn't find them until you looked for them. At first glance, you can easily see 16 squares. But the reality as it appears to be is often different from the reality as it is — 30 squares. You need to spend time and dig deeper to understand the reality as it is. Innovative solutions are always there for the problems we face, but you won't find them unless you look for them.

There is a method to the madness (systematically going through 1x1, 2x2, 3x3, and 4x4 squares in this case). It takes time to find the method, but when you do, it opens up many more solutions and opportunities for any innovation problem. We need to look beyond what meets the eye and what we are told, for more innovative perspectives both on the problem as well as the solutions born out of detachment to either.

But can we do even better than a systematic analysis? On a more creative note, there are 30 squares with black edges and 30 squares with white edges. We've now discovered 60 squares. Out-of-the-box thinking can open up even more solutions. The foundation of systematic method, combined with out-of-the-box thinking, can result in order-of-magnitude change in performance. There were several creative replies with many more squares, all the way to infinity. Thank you for stretching our thinking. There are no limits to out-of-the box thinking. Only our own imagination is the limiting factor. Don't think it's impossible, stretch the limits, bend the rules without breaking them — be curious — seek something new — think funky!

The question is: are you really into change? Change is constant. If there is one thing that does not change, it is change. Have you ever considered changing partners? Not changing partners in terms of swapping spouses, but changing your partners’ or co-workers’ mindset and behavior? Have you tried to do that? Not easy, right?

I have a firm belief that in order to keep up, stay relevant and be successful in this new, whacky and ultra-competitive era, we actually need to funk up the way we think. To think the same as you always have is to fall behind. The things that used to make you successful no longer work, your old thinking is now obsolete like a desktop computer, and your problem-solving abilities are now commoditized. Welcome to a whacky new world where all the old rules are defunct.

Among the plethora of apps available, I believe that your brain is the killer app in these crazy times. Your brain is an elaborate, collaborative network of 100 billion neurons, interconnecting with their mates via Instant Messenger (more precisely via trillions of synapses – but you get the point!). And just like you upgrade your computer software every few months to battle bugs, viruses and keep abreast of technological change, you also need to upgrade the way you think. The best way to outperform the competition is to out-think the competition. In this crazy world, the wilder and funkier you’re thinking, the better positioned you and your company are to prosper, self-actualize and grow.


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