Tag Archives: thinking

Think better

Have you ever been presented with a problem and delivered an expected solution? Most likely.

This is the usual response when addressing a challenge. We employ known ideas, known methods to deliver a known solution. Those who know me, will attest that I am a conservative thinker, but I’ve been challenged recently to think a little differently. This isn’t different for the sake of being different, this is in an attempt to deliver solutions that go beyond the easily digested and expected outcome.

I do not believe we should be diverging from an established path simply ‘just because’; but if there is an opportunity to be truly innovative that could potentially deliver a shorter or more efficient route for future challenges, then I suggest it must be considered.

Case in point is the marrying of social welfare and economics. Did you know it costs over $4 billion to simply administer the social welfare system in Australia to deliver $165 billion in payments (source: Australian Government Dept of Human Services 2014-15 Annual report)? That’s a weekly outlay of $3 billion with an administration cost of $80 million.

Traditional thinking has been to tweak eligibility requirements, strengthen the compliance framework, modify or revise payments… an alternative view is to replace the system entirely with what is known as a universal basic income. At its simplest, a basic income is a common universal payment to each and every member of society, irrespective of income or employment status or health profile. This payment would be designed to meet the basic living costs and, perhaps surprisingly, is not a new concept. It can trace its origin back to the 1800’s with it afforded greater prominence in the 1960s (thanks to noted economist Milton Friedman) and has been the topic of debate periodically since. Finland is trialling this concept.

Now I’m not intending to deliver economic or social rationale for either of these approaches in this post, that’s for you to discover! I am hoping, though, to encourage all of us to innovate our thinking by exploring an alternative view to a current challenge, seeking to understand its merits or otherwise.

If we want better solutions, we need different thinking, better thinking.


What’s burning?

Summer mornings of late I have awoken to the faint, but very identifiable, smell of smoke. Scanning the horizon there are no apparent signs of fire but the smell remains, infiltrating every corner of my home. I cannot locate the source, but I know it exists.

In our own worlds we may not be able to identify the cause, but we experience the result. The outcome of a negative attitude, a destructive behaviour, an unwillingness to change. We may not be positioned to perceive the root cause, but we feel or see the tangible outcome in our relationships, our careers, our finances. Others probably do see the cause. On these summer mornings there are firemen and women battling fires or managing back-burning far removed from my suburban domain. They are aware of both the cause and the outcome.

There are firefighters in our circle who are perceptively positioned to see into our world. Removed from the emotion that clouds our vision, they identify the negative attitude, the destructive behaviour, the unwillingness to change. These firefighters may in fact be available to help us initially contain and then overcome this issue. The first step for us, though, is to follow the smoke trail to the cause, to the attitude or behaviour that is either subtly smouldering or boldly blazing.

As 2012 draws to a close and we embark on the exciting journey that will be 2013, let’s start by allowing our destiny friends to help us bring the fires under control.


Image credit: rfoxfoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Are you doing something with that “good idea”?

How often have we had a good idea, perhaps even a great idea?

Our individual assessment as to the usefulness and relevance of our thinking may even be supported by our friends and colleagues. How often, though, do we actually do anything with this “good idea”?

A good idea is simply a thought. Turning the idea or concept into something that creates value is innovation. The challenge is to go beyond the thought and explore how the idea can be developed into a product or service or to enhance the manner in which something is produced or delivered.

It’s normally when we consider what could be involved with growing the idea, we stop. We see the skills we lack, the contacts we don’t have, the knowledge we are without. This thinking however implies it is all about us. We see a huge disconnect between us as the idea generator and us as the innovator. If the idea is indeed good, possibly even great, then others will also see this potential and will gather around it.

We should not allow our perception of our deficiencies to limit innovation. We should seek to grow the idea, seek input from others with the relevant experience, contacts and knowledge. We should harness our ability to think into a team’s ability to transform.

Let’s get thinking! Let’s get innovating!!


Image credit: peshkova / 123RF Stock Photo

Anarchy of the mind

Anarchy was a common theme emanating from British punks in the 1970’s and early 80’s. Rebelling against what they perceived as unjust economic and social policies, it gave rise to new approaches to music, dress, culture and ultimately politics. Bands such as The Clash and Sex Pistols were founded on a heady mix of politics and shock.

In Steve Jobs’ autobiography, Bono, of U2 fame, even draws counter-culture comparisons with the increasing significance of technology: “the people who invented the 21st century were pot-smoking, sandal-wearing hippies from the West Coast like Steve (Jobs), because they saw differently…the sixties produced an anarchic mind-set that is great for imagining a world not yet in existence.”

To create that world not yet in existence we need to think differently, to go against the flow.  That world does not have to be a global revolution, THAT world starts with our own minds, our own homes.

If we want different outcomes to the past, we must adopt a different approach. Step 1 is to imagine that world not yet in existence.

Photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

“O Captain! My Captain!”

O Captain! My Captain! is the moving farewell address voiced by students at the fictional Welton Academy towards their teacher John Keating as played by the enigmatic Robin Williams in the 1989 drama ‘Dead Poets Society’.  I first saw this film about 20 years ago as an impressionable 20 something year old yet the Latin phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ remains with me. This was the challenge offered by teacher Keating to his charges. Carpe diem translated means seize the day.

This story revolves around challenging traditional thinking. It supports stepping out from your conditioning into who you really are. It provokes you to find and capture the opportunities around you.

In the film, students are encouraged to stand on their desks to look at the world differently. In response to an impromptu protest from a student, Keating counsels him to be “wise, not stupid”. In lieu of the confines of the classroom, unstructured lessons are held outdoors.

Many of the thoughts and beliefs I held as a young man were reflective of my parents. I had been naturally ‘conditioned’ by an environment in which I had lived for over 17 years. This is true for most of us. We are reflective of the environments in which we were shaped: the good, the bad and the ugly!

Critically, by recognising this, we allow ourselves to be reshaped. We permit our thinking to challenged. We afford ourselves an opportunity to grow.

Standing on your desk may seem trivial however elevating your vision beyond what you normally see is essential to growth. Viewing a situation or circumstance from a different perspective can release solutions. Wisely considering your response to stimuli can open additional doors.

The phrase “O Captain! My Captain!” comes from a Walt Whitman poem about the assassination of US President Abraham Lincoln. It refers to the slain President for whom they both mourn and honour. There are those in our life who deserve this title – those people who see more within us than perhaps we see ourselves; those who challenge our thinking; those who encourage us to step out of the ordinary.

Allow yourself to be reshaped. Permit your thinking to be challenged. Afford yourself the opportunity to grow.

Start today: as you read this, why not stand up on your desk?

Let hope rise.

Photo:Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos