Mind Game For Thinking Around Corners

In many parts of Europe and Japan, streets are narrow, curbs nonexistent and buildings butt right up to the road. Blind corners are everywhere. Sometimes there’s a mirror on the other side of the intersection to give you a different perspective that helps you see what’s around the bend.

This same concept can be applied to marketing challenges where we need to come up with a solution without being able to see all aspects of the problem. Looking at the situation from a different viewpoint helps us “think” around blind corners.

This high-powered technique was created by Tom O’Leary and described in his Pick the Brain blog. The underlying premise is that by imagining how others would solve a problem, you can better determine the most effective way to move forward.

It’s easy – you can do this in less than ten minutes. Think of three people who are as different from you as possible. They can be famous people, or people you know, or even 100% stereotypical, politically incorrect characters you make up. Create an index card for each one with a photo or caricature on one side and a list of their personality traits, mannerisms, habits, achievements, attitudes, etc. on the other.

When faced with a conundrum, pull out your index cards and ask each person, “What would you do?” Then write down the first three things that come to mind. When you finish, you’ll have nine possible solutions.

“Simply because you are attempting to answer the question on behalf of someone very different from you, you will come up with some remarkable solutions that would not naturally occur in your thoughts,” says O’Leary. “Then all you have to do is decide which of the suggestions make sense when applied to your real world problem, and put the solutions to work.”

Want to try it with me? Next month I’ll tell you about my three characters and if they helped me think around corners. I’d love to hear if this technique works for you.

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