Tina Seelig: Challenge Assumptions | Summary and Q&A

October 6, 2011
Stanford eCorner
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Tina Seelig: Challenge Assumptions

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In this video, the speaker challenges assumptions by conducting an exercise where participants have to line up according to their birthdays without talking. The speaker then discusses the limitations of sticking to the first right answer and emphasizes the importance of exploring multiple solutions to foster creativity and innovation.

Questions & Answers

Q: What exercise did the speaker conduct with the participants?

The speaker asked the participants to line up according to their birthdays without talking.

Q: What was the initial reaction of the participants to the exercise?

The participants initially thought that it couldn't be done.

Q: Did the participants manage to line up according to their birthdays without talking?

No, there were some mistakes and out-of-order placements.

Q: How did the participants try to solve the problem initially?

They started making numbers with their fingers, thinking they had cracked the code.

Q: How effective was the initial approach of making numbers with fingers?

It was relatively effective, but there were still errors in the arrangement.

Q: Were there any other possible ways to accomplish the task?

Yes, there were several other alternative approaches. Some suggestions included writing it down, using driver licenses, singing the birthdays, mouthing the dates, or having someone direct the process.

Q: Why did the participants stick to the first right answer?

It is a common tendency for people to settle for the first right answer because they assume it is the best solution.

Q: What concept does the speaker introduce to encourage creativity?

The speaker introduces the concept of the "third third", which implies going beyond the first and second wave of answers to reach the truly innovative solutions.

Q: What does the speaker mean by incremental improvement?

Incremental improvement refers to making small, gradual changes or additions to existing solutions without significant innovation.

Q: Why does the speaker emphasize exploring beyond the obvious answers?

The speaker emphasizes this to push the boundaries of creativity and find more innovative solutions rather than settling for incremental improvements.


The exercise conducted by the speaker demonstrates that people tend to stick to the first right answer when problem-solving, which limits their ability to think creatively. To foster innovation, it is crucial to explore multiple solutions, even beyond the obvious ones, and go through the third wave of answers to discover truly innovative ideas. By challenging assumptions and embracing a mindset of exploration, individuals and organizations can break away from incremental improvements and achieve more significant breakthroughs.

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