Tina Seelig: Innovation Demands Focus and Reframing | Summary and Q&A

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October 17, 2014
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Stanford eCorner
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Tina Seelig: Innovation Demands Focus and Reframing

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Summary

In this video, the speaker discusses the importance of focus and reframing in order to come up with breakthrough ideas and innovations. Focus is described as a deep commitment to learning and understanding a specific topic or problem. Reframing involves looking at a problem from different perspectives, which can lead to a broader range of solutions. The speaker emphasizes the significance of asking the right questions and challenging assumptions in order to generate innovative ideas. The importance of generating a large number of solutions, even including seemingly "crazy" or counterintuitive ones, is also highlighted.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the significance of focus in coming up with breakthrough ideas?

Focus is important because, once we have experimented to test a potential solution, we need to fully commit and learn everything about the topic or problem. This deep commitment allows us to gain a deep understanding, explore different angles, and uncover new insights that can lead to breakthrough ideas.

Q: How does reframing contribute to generating innovative solutions?

Reframing involves looking at a problem from various perspectives and asking different questions. By reframing, we can expand the possibilities and shift from seeking one right answer to exploring infinite solutions. When we change the frame or the way we ask a question, we open ourselves up to different perspectives and creative possibilities.

Q: Can you provide an example of how changing the question can affect the set of solutions?

Sure. Consider a problem with one right answer, such as finding the solution to a math concept. But if we reframe the question or ask it differently, we can expand the solutions infinitely. For instance, rather than asking for the solution, we can ask how many different ways the concept can be applied or explore alternate approaches. The way we ask the question becomes the frame within which the answers fall.

Q: Why is questioning the questions we ask critical for true innovations?

The question we ask determines the type of answers we receive. If we ask the wrong question, we're unlikely to obtain meaningful or innovative answers. Questioning the questions we ask allows us to challenge assumptions, reframe problems, and explore new perspectives. By doing so, we create the opportunity to generate truly innovative solutions.

Q: Can you explain the significance of coming up with 100 solutions to a problem?

Asking participants to come up with 100 solutions rather than just 10 or 5 serves multiple purposes. Initially, the first ideas that come to mind are often incremental, expected, and obvious. By encouraging the generation of a large number of solutions, we push individuals to think more creatively and go beyond the obvious. The later waves of solutions tend to become more interesting and can often lead to truly innovative and breakthrough ideas.

Q: How do seemingly "crazy" ideas or ways to make the problem worse contribute to unlocking new ways of looking at challenges?

Seemingly "crazy" ideas or ways to make the problem worse serve as catalysts for innovative thinking. By intentionally exploring unconventional or counterintuitive paths, we challenge our assumptions and break free from traditional constraints. This allows us to think outside the box and discover new perspectives and possibilities that may have been overlooked.

Takeaways

In order to come up with breakthrough ideas and true innovations, it is important to deeply commit to and focus on a specific topic or problem. Reframing by looking at the problem from different angles and asking alternative questions can expand the range of possible solutions. The question we ask becomes the frame into which our answers fall, highlighting the importance of questioning the questions we ask. Generating a large number of solutions, including seemingly "crazy" ones, helps to unlock truly innovative ideas that go beyond the obvious. By challenging assumptions and exploring unconventional paths, we can develop new perspectives and find creative solutions to complex challenges.

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