line illusion

Dare to look where no one does

The title of this post could have easily been titled “dare to go where no one goes” but to “go” you must first observe and then decide. And when I mean look, I literally mean observe. For example, look at the optical illusion below.

Which horizontal line is the shortest? Your eyes will tell you that it is the first one, but they happen to be exactly the same size.

line illusion

Only by really paying attention will you see that both lines are the same size. Call it what you will, but the art of observation is a dying art. Before you can notice, you must observe. And to observe, you must look.

For example, what are doors for?

This seeming simple question, which we never think about, is precisely what I mean by “dare to look where no one does”. This is not meant to be a philosophical exercise, but an “mind-opening” exercise. Have you ever asked yourself a question about something you take for granted?

There’s opportunity in herd behavior

With the rise of social networks and social media, information overload has created zombies out of all of us. What I mean, is people are just going with the flow. The snares of groupthink that social media creates has the upper hand on critical thinking. And critical thinking, is precisely what we need to put into practice if we are to look where no one else does.

When everyone is going one way, everyone else goes along. This is easy. But it even more important than ever, that one consider with careful thought, why everyone is going that way. More people talking and joining alike groups equals more herd behavior.

There is great opportunity for innovation in exploiting this human tendency. Here’s an example of “looking where no one else does” via Smart Planet:

Ever wonder why you have to check out of your hotel room at 11 a.m. when you’re practically the only person in the hotel? It doesn’t make sense to the Art Series Hotels chain either.

“Overstay. You’re welcome.” That’s the thinking behind a new innovation in hotel checkout from the Australian-based chain. Starting in December guests will be allowed to stay in their rooms as long as they like (as long as nobody else books their room).

Here’s how it works: On the morning of your departure, call the reception desk and ask for an “overstay checkout.” If the hotel isn’t busy you can checkout later — at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., or even the next day depending on the demand for your room. The best part? There’s no limit on how many days you can overstay. If there’s no demand for your room you could end up staying an extra week, for free.

This hotel, “looked” at a common habit that exists in pretty much every hotel you can imagine. They looked at it and asked themselves: Why do we have to checkout people at 11 AM?

The reason I mention this is because if we are to reimagine products, services, processes and everything else, it is wise to look at where the herd is going and then ask why that is so. For example, most companies that hire MBAs don’t have the slightest idea why they do so. Why is that? Why are we hiring MBA’s? Other than manage the business, what purpose do they serve, ?

When was the last time you took the time to reflect on why you do what you do?

Make distinctions

Before launching yourself into anything new, get down to the nitty-gritty of what it is that you are going to do. Here are two examples of what I mean:

  • For example, a word that is thrown around loosely today is “engagement”. Everyone wants engagement. But what exactly does it mean? What is engagement? If your definition is similar to what everyone thinks, ask yourself why that might be.
  • For example, because innovation has officially entered into the buzzword mania sweepstakes, I started deconstructing “what innovation is” a few months back. Recently, Deb Scofield deconstructed the difference between outputs and outcomes.

The point: Whenever you start hearing people express themselves like everyone else, that’s your cue to start questioning. These questions, will help you look where no one else does.

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  • Kevin McFarthing

    Hi Jorge – this is analagous to business data. Almost every metric people look at is history, which can’t be changed. I’m a big fan of prospective, or leading data, where you can actually do something to change it. So – innovation pipeline value, sales prospects, new contacts, new contracts etc etc. It would be a bit different….


    • Hi Kevin,

      Great point.

      What do you think about Big Data sets? How does Big Data influence how we look at lagging and leading data?



      • Kevin McFarthing

        Hi Jorge – I can’t claim to be an expert on Big Data, but I would guess the principle still holds. Kevin

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