Hi, I’m Astrid. I’m an organisational psychologist who specialises in anything innovation, and I’m single. Now, these two things might seem unrelated, but as you’ll see in this series, I assure you they’re not.
Last Astridtmas I was walking around in my old home town (my parents still live there) when I ran into an old friend who I used to go to school with. We started chatting and she told me she was in the process of divorcing her high school sweetheart. They had been together for 18 years. I remember them well; he was so cool. He wore a white scarf (we don’t have uniforms in Holland) and he was a year older than all of us. He was her first and he was just perfect. Fast forward 16 years, and at age 34, things were quite different. Suddenly his ability to burp the alphabet seemed less essential.
Looking back, she felt that at the time, she went for the first guy who seemed right. Perfect even. She never really looked at anyone else. Now I am of course aware that there are amazing love stories out there of people who meet young and live very happy long lives together, but it did remind me of something I see happening in organisations all the time. People jump to the first right solution.
Even in an environment in which it is understood that innovation doesn’t start with an idea, and there is clarity on which specific problems are the most valuable ones to solve with innovation – people can’t help but look at a problem and just jump to the first right solution.
It plays out like this: Someone has an idea (“I know what we could do..”), everyone gets a little excited (“What a great idea!!”) and the breadth of thinking stops. Problem basically solved (‘Now it’s all about building the idea up for developing a business case’). This is a huge problem for innovation. The first right answer – the first right (exciting!) solution – will almost certainly not be the most creative solution you will be able to come up with. Even the second round of solutions, when all the obvious ideas are out of the way, and people have to think very creatively to come up with anything, won’t be the most creative. It isn’t until ideas have dried up, and you dig very deep (and this typically involves using stimulus from other industries for example or involves strategically bringing outsiders into the thinking process), that real creativity happens. The more divergently you can think, the more (diverse) ideas you can come up with, the more creative and innovative your ideas and solutions to problems will be.
So, next time you are solving a problem creatively, and you or someone in your team comes up with a great solution – park it, and push through. Push through until there is nothing left. It is after that point that you will really start to spark creativity.
Fingers crossed it works the same with men..
I’m always up for a chat about innovation (or dating!), so if you have any thoughts or questions, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org