A new perspective can be invaluable. One expression is that a change in point-of-view is worth forty IQ.
In her Masters in Business podcast with Barry Ritholtz, Barbara Tversky highlighted research about design and creativity. She said:
“In order to design we have to get rid of old ways and think in new ways. We just finished an experiment asking people to think of new ways to use old things. The good answers come at about the ninth answer. The way we got people to generate these new ideas—how to use an umbrella in a creative way—was to ask them to think of differing roles of people. How would a doctor use this? How would a gardener?”Barbara Tversky
Host Barry Ritholtz said it reminded him of the props portion of Whose Line is it Anyway.
A new perspective tends to help because it’s a new way to look at an issue. Even though we may be well versed in an area, we also may be on a blocked trail. Our familiarity with one path could be our hinderance.
When Bill Gates was asked why he could contribute to something like polio research, besides just dollars, he said that sunk costs and biases seep in along with the work. Instead there has to be an outside perspective that asks, have you considered this?
Part of the reason comedy, like Whose Line, works so well is because it offers a contrast from a different point of view. Ricky Gervais’s joke about guitar lessons is just that. He reframes Twitter into a physical message board. He reframes followers as passersby.
It’s great to hear about Tversky research because it provides a framework for how this can happen. Think of ten jobs, pretend you’re that person, come up with one answer for each. That’s it.
Other quotes from Tversky I liked:
- “We have to learn routines to get through the day. If everything is a new problem it’s going to take too long.”
- “Memories start getting distorted the minute you use language because they don’t happen in language.”