You may have seen the recent Visa Olympics commercial featuring Dick Fosbury. He is famous for what is now known as the Fosbury Flop. It’s a method of performing a high jump by curving and jumping backwards over the bar. With his new method, he won the Gold medal in Mexico, 1968.
Until the Fosbury Flop, the basic method of performing a high jump required the jumper to run up to the bar and jump face forward as high as they could get. Dick knew he couldn’t approach the problem the same way as everyone before him, and expect to get a dramatically different result. His breakthrough came from looking at the problem differently.
Maybe you are like me. When i am problem solving I get stuck. Try as hard as I might, solutions are hard to find. In that moment, I know I need something to reboot my thinking. I need an innovation. And, I know that Innovation requires looking at the problem from a completely different angle than previously used. Sometimes I try asking someone who knows very little about the field for ideas. You would be stunned by the number of great ideas that can be generated when someone comes at the problem from a different perspective or with little experience bias. Other times I try to figure out what would make the problem worse, and then try to find something that would reverse that effect. The point is, when I am stuck, that’s the time I know that I need to change direction in my problem solving approach.
When you are stuck, and can’t think of a solution to an impossible problem, try the Fosbury Flop. Maybe you ought to think of approaching the problem from a different angle. Think different, see what a difference it makes.