The next time someone tells me they are “thinking outside the box”, it may be more than I can do to stop myself from screaming. It’s (oxy)moronic, as are so many phrases that are intended to convey creative thinking. Most of the time, I would put “thought leadership” in this category. A good example of this was a fintech firm (I will spare them their blushes), which posted a sponsored article last week about their office expansion in Asia Pacific and then claimed it to be a “thought leadership” piece. Say no more.
I’m finding that genuine creativity, risk-taking and innovation are increasingly rare commodities, regardless of the age or experience of the people involved. They can be bracketed together as qualities that involve thinking and acting differently than the norm.
My view is admittedly skewed, by working in the field of Communications, and there are many great new business ideas coming out of the fintech and crypto/blockchain arena, especially. However, only a small minority can truly be categorised as “disruptive technologies”, changing the way that traditional business and markets are run. Most are designed to do the same things, just more efficiently.
Perhaps we are trained as human beings to revert to safety in numbers. Is that why city “hotspots” are viewed as fashionable when everyone goes to them? Surely by then, they are no longer fashionable (some degree of exclusivity implied) – they are the norm. When I was a lot younger, I was passing through Bangkok on the Khao San Road. I was astonished to see bar after bar filled with Brits and Americans, many with backpacks. What was the point? In my view, places, venues and ideas are more desirable when they are less-travelled.
Much of what we do each day forces us to think conventionally. If we don’t, it’s harder to find acceptance – whether it be getting approved for a new credit card, mortgage or a good review (restaurant, book etc.). We’re programmed to behave in certain ways.
Convention is not what drives true innovation, discovery or creativity. For centuries, great explorers went where no man or woman had ever been before. They sought out the dark corners of the world we live in. In a ‘selfie’ world, we could learn a thing or two from them. It’s time to think for ourselves. If we don’t think differently, we’re not really thinking.
Noted psychologist, JP Guilford, challenged research subjects to connect all nine dots using just four straight lines without lifting their pencils from the page and only 20% of the group succeeded.
So, are you a thought leader or a follower? Test your creativity skills with the nine-dot puzzle and let us know your results.
Tags: Convention, Creative, Finance, Innovation, JP Guilford, Nine-dot Puzzle, Thought Leadership