24 Jan 15|Creativity

Creativity can be consumed by assumptions.

Creativity can be consumed by assumptions.

Took part in a great webinar a week or so ago. Amantha Imber from Melbourne based company Inventium was talking about innovation and the topic swung around to assumptions. Amantha believes that assumptions can actually toll the death bell for creativity. Why? Because assumptions have the ability to “fence in thinking”. At that point I had a eureka moment. Everyone from big business operators to solo operators “assume” outcomes one way or another when attempting to create. The discussion continued with some sound advice – “one way to beat the assumption monster is to identify just what (the assumptions) are and crush them”.

And how is this for a great example of how assumptions limit us? Think toilet paper. Think cardboard roll in every single brand of toilet paper that has come out for the last umpteen years…got it? Assume that cardboard roll has to be there right? Makes it easy to put the toilet paper on the toilet holder yeah? WRONG. The Scotts brand have just crushed the assumption. There now exists a toilet paper without a cardboard roll. Just imagine how many trees have just been saved!

Want another example? Think mobile phone pre iPhone. It had been assumed that a phone had to have a certain number of buttons in order to function effectively and dial numbers. Apple killed that assumption in a big way…

But – How do I stop making assumptions? I hear you ask.  Amantha suggests that a good way of stopping assumptions from getting in the way of a great innovation would be to list them – as many as possible – and then ask – What if the opposite was true? The suggestions is that this question is enough to stimulate creative thinking and put the focussing on making the innovation possible, rather than impossible.

Common negative assumptions that get in the way could be centred around budget, staff, fear of change, risk aversion supervisors, micro management – I am sure you can come up with several more to add to the list. When they are brought up at meetings simply combat them – bring out the armour – come out swinging, tackle them head on, say them out loud, repeat them – THEN ask – What if the opposite is true? Well – what if it is?

...assumptions have the ability to “fence in thinking”

...assumptions have the ability to “fence in thinking”

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