Ideation / Innovation / Mental Block · April 14, 2022

Believe it or not, the ‘thinking box’ is real

Why would a tech giant like Apple hire external innovation consultancy firms like IDEO to help design its products?

Does IDEO knows something Apple doesn’t? Does Apple not have sufficient number of engineers? Or is it that Apple engineers are not innovative enough?

No, no, and no!

Then what is it that companies like Apple cannot find within the bounds of their own premises, for which they have to go out seeking outside?

The answer is: an outsider’s perspective.

IDEO’s success is a proof that it matters. No matter how many internal experts you have on your team, they are all limited by their internal perspective.

Believe it or not – there is a box. And you cannot get rid of it.

To innovate, you need to seek and take into account the outsider’s perspective. You cannot find it internally from within the team – no matter how much you push them to think outside the box. True outsider’s perspective can only be found outside the box.

Where do you find outsider’s perspective?

Of course, companies like IDEO are an option. But if you are an SME, it may not be viable for you. Good news, there are other options:

  • Bring in a person from another team into a discussion. Ask them for opinion on your prototype. Don’t worry about their lack of expertise. That’s the whole point.
  • Talk to your customers. Tell them about the features you are planning. Listen to what they think.
  • Look from inspiration in what other innovators are doing, e.g. by exploring patents. You don’t need to limit to your own industry while doing this. Some of the best innovation come from cross-industry adaptation of solutions.

In short:

  • admit that there is a thinking box, and
  • compensate for it by seeking outsider’s perspective

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P.S. Cover Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash