Power of Thinking Differently– Invent, Imagine, Create, Disrupt.. Change the World: Companies Must Think Different or Fail…

Thinking differently: Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers… Here’s to the ones who see the world differently… They’re the ones who invent, imagine, create…

They’re the ones who push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones who actually do– they ‘think different’… This theme is from– Apple’s, Steve Jobs; ‘Think Different’ Ad campaign, 1997…

According to Lauchlan Mackinnon; I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about just what exactly it means to ‘think differently’ and the meaning is not as simple as it sounds! The Apple campaign was very clever– it inspired people to become one of those– crazy ones, one of these innovators, one of the people who change the world… But this Apple theme also, interestingly, explored– who thinks differently, how people who ‘think different’ can be geniuses or misfits or exceptional or stubborn, they might or might not fit in… But they make a difference– they do important work and they change the world…

Also, there are other ways people can think differently, for example: Be revolutionary– question old ways of doing things… Be an innovator– create new powerful ways to do things… Be  creative– express new powerful ideas… Be a performer– push boundaries, think in new ways that lead to improved results… Be a seeker– gain a deeper, better understanding of the world… Be a visionary– imagine an expanded vision of what’s possible and what’s worthwhile… Be independent– think independent for yourself… Be a leader– have the courage to discover and express your individual uniqueness…

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In the article Ability to Think Differently by Gary Bertwistle writes: The key to the future of business is thinking differently… All great accomplishments come from people who think differently about something… all innovations come people who are prepared to think differently… Even ‘inside the box’ can look at things differently… People use the quote the cliché: ‘Think outside the box’ and sometimes it’s necessary to think ‘outside the box’ in order to push forward, but often we also do good things by thinking ‘inside the box’, and do it better…

The real advantage over the competitors is the ability to look at something, and think about it differently… By having the courage to consider different options– you will automatically be creative, innovative and the outcome will be a problem well solved… Don’t focus on creativity– focus on getting people to think differently and creativity will be the result, for example; imagine if the receptionist thought: What I do differently or better today than I did yesterday? Or if the finance department were looking at operations of the business thinking: How can we do things differently to improve?  What if the sales team approached things differently, looking for improvements or new solutions to current or potential problems? How much time is allocated in your diary for thinking about the business, and considering what you could do differently?

Thinking differently is coming up with lists of options to solve problems, challenges… When you constantly push boundaries to think differently, you leap-frog the competition… Thinking differently is a discipline, desire… it’s a rejection of mediocrity, status quo… In fact, if you’re not thinking differently then the person in the next office, then why are you needed? If a company is doing exactly the same thing as the competition, then why do customers need it? Thinking differently is the currency of the future… it’s business of the future… it’s the power of the future…

In the article Truth About Thinking Differently by Andrew Bennett writes: For decades we’ve been saying; ‘think outside the box’, and in a world where rapid, frequent innovation is essential, it’s certainly desirable to think differently. But admonishing people to think differently is an empty wish unless we understand a little more about how the brain works, and steps we can take to actually shift our thinking…

The brain is very efficient– it turns much of its processing over to ‘autopilot’ in order to maximize the ability to handle things that require more brain power… Most of our thinking is on ‘autopilot’– when we admonish our teams, colleagues… to think differently we’re actually going against the way a brain is wired… Although 95% of our thinking is the same from day-to-day, we can make changes such that new thinking can happen… Here are three ways:

  • Understand what inspires you: It’s hard to think creatively when constantly reacting to business situations… face situations throughout the day based on what you’re trying to accomplish, create… and don’t simply react…
  • Become conscious of your story: Life experiences shape a ‘story’ that influences the way you navigate your actions… Being conscious of your personal ‘story’ enables you to know when you’re simply sticking with a safe strategy… understanding your ‘story’ or your inter-influences enables you to adjust, and begin to think differently…
  • Check your assumptions: Be an observer of your own thinking and challenge the facts upon which you base your thinking… step back, check your thinking process in order to engage in more effective thinking…

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In the article Think Differently by Steve Denning writes: What does it take to come up with thinking that’s– value-adding, game-changing innovations? According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter; Thinking ‘outside the box’ is not enough– the greatest breakthroughs will come from leaders who encourage thinking– outside a whole building full of boxes… The problem of innovation today is right ‘in the heart’ of the corporation, at the highest level…

The core problem is the very thinking by which decisions, at the C-suite level, are made. It’s the thinking that is still taught in business schools that measures results in terms of short-term performance and stock price… and that’s the problem… According to Clayton Christensen; nothing will change unless the thinking that’s now prevalent in business and in business schools– for how business decisions are made– also changes... Indeed, when the business has a short-term mindset; the stranger the new ideas and the less likely they  will be funded… Merely changing sources of ideas is unlikely to produce a different result…

Game-changing innovation lies outside the performance envelope of businesses built on hierarchical bureaucracy where the top management is focused on short-term gains and the stock price… Game-changing innovation requires a different kind of management with a new corporate bottom line in which value-adding innovation is necessity, not an option. Instead of focusing exclusively on short-term gains, efficiency, productivity… basic goals must shift from– internal to external focus, for example; primary business priority must be delighting customers through continuous value-adding innovation… Game-changing innovation requires a fundamentally different way of– thinking, managing, doing… It’s a paradigm shift in management…

In John C. Maxwell’s bookHow Successful People Think’ writes: Thinking is discipline– you must work at it… You must figure out where to focus your energy, and then use the 80/20 rule… Devote 80% of your energy to the most important 20% of your activities. Remember that you can’t be everywhere, know everyone, and do everything…

Expose yourself to different ideas and types of people… If you have an idea then follow through… Ideas have a short shelf life– you must act on them before the expiration date… Thoughts need time to develop– don’t just settle on the first thing that comes to mind, remember the last time you had a brilliant idea at 2 a.m., but it sounded sort of ridiculous when you woke up the next morning? Thoughts need to be– shaped until they have substance– and then they must stand test of– clarity, questioning…

When questioning popular thinking– you must be prepared for pushback, and be OK with feeling uncomfortable… Plan ahead–but leave room for spontaneity… Be strategic– thinking differently means– do different things… The creative, innovative… ones don’t see limitations, they see possibilities… For example; former baseball star Sam Ewing once said that– ‘nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done’…

Creative people are dedicated to ideas– they embrace ambiguity, don’t fear failure, and hang out with other creative people… Thinking differently is fine but you must be realistic, and that means: 1. appreciate the truth… 2. do homework, get the facts… 3. think through the pros and cons, 4. consider the worst-case scenario, 5. align thinking with resources… Most important– we all can change the way we think– mastering the process leads to thinking differently, which leads to doing different things, which leads to game-changing innovation…

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A ‘think different’ mindset isn’t just a tag line; it captures, reinforces a company’s unique cult-like culture in the way it operates– top to bottom… The most successful businesses have one thing in common– they think differently… According to Roger Martin; it’s impossible to reproduce the successes of great business leaders… so rather than learning from what great leaders have done, a more productive starting point is to learn from how they think…

In order to stay competitive, leaders, organizations… must break status quo and think ‘outside the box’, i.e., think ‘outside the box’ but ‘inside the circle’… Break the status quo, but do so in a way that’s creative, yet practical, effective…Its about time to start thinking differently… become more original… question the way you do business… According to John C. Maxwell; the world is not shaped by those who think the same, but by those who dare to think differently…

According to Bob Johansen; most leadership models are based on the present and past, whereas, the future requires a different set of leadership models, skills… Leaders will operate in a different world– volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous (VUCA)… This means embracing a collaborative leadership style– collaboration, in this context, means more than just working together across geographical, organizational boundaries; it’s bringing together, integrating… people with different ideas, backgrounds, capabilities, ideas, potentially…

According to Navi Radjou; business leaders must be able to manage multiple viewpoints, perspectives… across the company… But rather than trying to seek convergence, which is the easy route, companies must encourage divergence– divergence leads to diversity, which leads to more innovation... According to Vijay Govindarajan, conventional western business thinking embraced the attitude that companies– take existing products created for customers in developed countries, markets… and then scale them down for emerging markets… However, consider the opposite or ‘reverse innovation’ (i.e., new way of thinking)… it advocates developing innovative solutions that work for consumers in the emerging countries, markets… and then apply those innovations to developed markets, globally…

In fact, the very business best practices that made global western corporations so successful– actually get in the way of innovating in emerging markets… Now as a test ask: How does your business think differently about your markets, products…? In the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’ there are several inspirational lines that are relevant to this discussion, such as: We must constantly look at things in a different way. Just when you think you know something, then again look at it in a different way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try– dare to strike out, dare to be different… Ultimately, the key to innovation is not to just think differently, but rather think in a different way about things that are different…