Outside your comfort zone
- 14 December 2015
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Who wants to learn about chemistry while they’re studying geology, metallurgy, mechanical engineering and management techniques?
But if people hadn’t taken an interest in all of these areas, the car would never have been invented – because mixing ideas and discoveries from across different areas of study was the key to its creation. Modern cars are estimated to be the result of more than 100,000 patents.
Most of us are guilty of writing-off some part of our intellectual development – happy to forget some of what we were taught at school. How often have we all said something like “I don’t do maths” or “History is boring”?
But this is a bad habit, one we should all fight. Mixing ideas across disciplines is how innovation happens. Most inventors are synthesisers who combine existing ideas to create something new and fruitful.
Take digital advertising – it’s a fusion of traditional ad techniques (including ideas from graphic design, psychology and various other fields) and the internet (with tools that make true measurability and personalisation possible). Online statistics portal Statista estimates that the market is worth a staggering $170 billion worldwide.
So to innovate, you first need to encounter and understand lots of different concepts from all over the place that can be combined. There are lots of ways to learn. Thought leaders in marketing draw ideas from dozens – perhaps even hundreds – of sources, so attending training courses, reading widely and pursuing education in all its aspects is one way to go.
Mentoring, too, is an excellent way to gain new ideas and explore new career avenues in a structured way.
But, in order to embark on any creative journey, another synthesis has to happen – between the method of combining ideas and curiosity The curiosity to try something new is at the core of the scientific method.
Being curious is a frame of mind we all like to inspire in consumers, giving them just a little information so they’re motivated to find out more about a brand – but one we should cultivate too. Customers are interested in us if we show an interest in them, and teammates work better if they feel that their manager understands them.
Getting out of your comfort zone and discovering out more – about the psychology of colleagues and customers, new technologies, old methods that have fallen out of style – needs to be followed by a question: what will happen if I mix these two things together? What reaction will I get?
You never know where asking might lead.Back to all
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