Not all ideas are created equal.
One of my favorite books is ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’ by designer Alan Fletcher and in it he makes an analogy of thinking as helicopters and vending machines.
Helicopter Thinkers are those people who look at a challenge or problem from many different perspectives. They hover high above the terrain to get a holistic view and see the big picture, then they zoom in, get nice and close to see all the detail. They move around and see the challenge from as many different points of view as possible and because they see problems from many perspectives they are also able to see endless possibilities.
Then there are those who are like Vending Machines. When these people have a challenge or problem they take a coin out of their pocket, stick it into the vending machine, push the buttons and out the bottom comes the same old ideas maybe just wrapped a little differently.
The problem is that many companies in their quest to win a client, get a project completed, or find a creative solution quickly, settle for the vending machine ideas. To outpace your competitors you need to generate ideas and solutions that are, workable, viable and fit-for-purpose.
You need to think like a Helicopter because finding ingenious solutions is all about seeing the world from different perspectives and unique angles. It’s all about being open to as many possibilities as you can. If you limit the possibilities you see (by being vending machines), you then limit the value and quality of your ideas and stifle your business growth.
So you need to put processes in place that allow and stimulate Helicopter Thinking.
1. Give yourself and your people permission to think like helicopters. If they don’t know they can – they won’t!
2. Give yourself and your people the space and time to explore ideas.
3. Be prepared to take creative risks. Great ideas come when your thinking is not just pushing the envelope but breaking it.