During school and later in business 90%+ of humans become unknowingly and with no bad intention from others an ever more linear thinker. Everything – and I mean everything – is structured in the next 3, 5, 10 steps to do this or that. Moreover, after we see positive results from that mechanism, we even ask: “What are the 3 most important steps to do this or that” or “the 5 most important activities, getting to this or that result” and so forth. When you look at the Question and answer board, “Quora”, hundreds of people ask for the three most important skills an entrepreneur should have, not even wonder, if “skills” are needed in the first place. When getting older you hold onto your 7 steps of “anything” that had been most successful throughout your life. Entering a completely new job is terrifying for most people because of ONE FEAR: There must be more than the top 10 steps to success. Yes, we intuitively feel that it is more than that. But we don’t know. All we know is step by step or linear thinking. Moreover, nobody ever really taught us any different way. But we absolutely can. Being change-averse stems from our simplified education to become successful – step by step.
Do we need to think lateral to be innovative?
We have to break one of the biggest rules in our education or in our business lives: to think step by step. As we started to think of methods and techniques to leverage our born ability to be creative, we needed to break something that seems to have nothing to do with innovation: Breaking Linear Thinking. Once we began to address that issue we realized how severe the damage is in our innovation management theories, methods, and even technologies when going by the “step by step” model. The next problem was to educate people to think lateral. After trying to tell people how the brain composes ideas from previous experiences by having some of our 86 Billion Neurons connect in new ways with each other – could not come and train them in lateral versus linear thinking. Teach how to think is the hardest training in the first place – so we had to find different ways. The theoretical answer to the question is yes, you need to understand how to think lateral. A far more practical solution however is to experience the results. This goes back to our analogy between the greatest thinker in the world and the most amazing athletes. Both achieve amazing results by using their body in a perfect way – without necessarily knowing each action in each microsecond of their doing. We wanted our innovators to not think how they think but literally “see” idea streams and focus on the idea, not on the mechanics of your brain.
BlueCallom Canvas Explained
The objective is: to “see” the state of activity in a lateral representation. We use a pattern that our brain is actually using as well: One part of the information in our thinking process comes from the right half of our brain, the other from the left. A very powerful apparatus, the Corpus Callosum sits in the middle and not only connects the two brain halves it also helps negotiating the idea pieces. And it is the “messenger” between two halves that tries to make sense from the rational impressions and gets the feeling from the other halve. This is why we arranged the fields in a nonlinear and actually lateral arrangement. Left is what is (rational) – right is what we could consider “creative”. We work on both sides and get to the middle where the signals – the messages – from both sides get negotiated. If in the middle is no agreement we need to go back to the rationale and see if we considered everything and go to the right side and see if we got the best possible outcome. Once we got the first set of information in phase 1 and some good ideas in phase 2 we bring the core summary in the middle. When verified with the inputs from phase 1, in nearly 100% of the cases, the team goes back to phase 2 and fine-tunes whatever they have here. Once satisfying, the needs or requirements etc. get collected, and the haves and wants weigh in. At the end of the episode, a decision shall be made on how to move forward. For simple processes like in a business model canvas, there is not necessarily a decision to be made. But in a ‘BlueCallom’, an entire innovation project, which may take years to complete, the earlier key decisions can be made the higher the success potential or the earlier the whole process can be stopped before it needs serious investments. Instead of verifying and iterating after major milestones, we do the iteration WITHIN EACH EPISODE. It saves time and cost and more importantly it accelerates the act of innovation.
Lateral thinking is necessary, yet we don’t need to focus on BEING lateral – instead, SEEING the process in a lateral way.
This is why and how we say goodby to linear thinking. A lock-stepped process, going from one to the next, until we finished would be a linear thinking process. We find error or imperfection in either process. BUt in the linear process far too late and it is far too expensive.
The Corpus Callosum has been so inspiring for us that it gave us the name for the company – Callom as short form and the blue from the technical representation of this genius part of nature.