4 Approaches To Sharpen Your Thinking and Get Better Ideas

Do you often come to the same answer as most people? The same conclusion? Most people do. This is because they read the same stuff, talk to people who are similar to them and don’t question their assumptions. Social media has created a bubble devoid of critical thinking which drives people to the same conclusions.

It doesn’t have to be this way! You can improve your thinking dramatically. Want better thinking? Develop better inputs. The inputs of your thinking drive the outputs of your thinking.

Better thinking often leads to better outcomes and decision making. One way to improve our thinking is by developing better inputs. The quality of the information and ideas we take in have a significant impact on the quality of the thinking that follows. By taking in better inputs, we improve our thinking and decision making abilities.

There are several ways to develop better inputs, such as seeking out diverse perspectives, reading widely, and surrounding ourselves with people who challenge our beliefs.

  • Seeking out diverse perspectives helps to broaden our thinking and allows us to see different angles and points of view on a particular issue. By reading widely, we expose ourselves to new ideas and information, which can stimulate and improve our thinking. Surrounding ourselves with people who challenge our beliefs can help us to question our assumptions, and develop a deeper understanding of our own beliefs and values.
  • Another way to improve inputs is to be proactive in seeking out new information. This might mean attending conferences or workshops, reading trade publications, or participating in online forums or discussion groups. By being proactive in seeking out new information, we can stay ahead of the curve and be more informed about the latest developments in our field.

It’s also important to consider the quality of our inputs. Simply taking in a lot of information doesn’t necessarily equate to better thinking. We need to be critical in our evaluation of the information we consume, and be selective in what we choose to focus on. High-quality inputs are those that are well researched, accurate, and relevant to our goals and needs.

Inputs matter, here are 4 approaches to sharpen your thinking and get better ideas.

  1. Wonder walk. This approach is about getting yourself out of your chair and go hunting for ideas in places you wouldn’t consider. I once got an idea for a marketing campaign for baby clothes from a deliberate trip I made to the supermarket, browsing through items on shelves just letting my brain make connections. I then used this approach with a banking client who was looking to improve their customer experience, took their team to different restaurants known for their memorable experiences and had them borrow and implement ideas from those contexts; this is a very powerful approach!
  2. Change your collaborators. Group think is one of the most common enemies of innovation. Where all think alike nobody thinks very much. You’ll immediately challenge your beliefs and shift your perspective by changing your collaborators. You have to seek outsiders and be comfortable doing so, outsiders have the power to change the game because their thinking isn’t tied to the status quo!
  3. Think through analogies. An analogy is a comparison between two things. It points out the similarities between two things that might be different in all other respects. Analogies cause us to think analytically about forms, uses, structures, and relationships. Thinking through analogies helps you to identify and apply the best features from other solutions.
  4. First principles thinking. First-principles thinking is a powerful problem-solving tool that involves breaking down a problem into its fundamental building blocks, and then reasoning up from there. When used, it will help you challenge assumptions and get to the root of a challenge, giving you a unique perspective.

Bottom line: Better thinking is often a result of better inputs. By seeking out diverse perspectives, reading widely, surrounding ourselves with people who challenge our beliefs, being proactive in seeking out new information, and evaluating the quality of our inputs, we can improve the quality of our thinking and decision making abilities.