We have known for a long time that consumers have difficulty providing solutions for your innovative product search. As we discussed in past blogs, and as Henry Ford said: “If I asked customers what they wanted, they would say faster horses.”

If we ask our customers what innovative door and window products they want, the answer is usually not going to point you in the best direction. The main reason for this is that the world we live in is so complex it leads to almost infinite thought patterns about what the real question and goal are. We must start our search with a goal in mind. We also must start our search with an understanding of how our customers and how our innovation team members think.

Strategic consultant and author Matt May notes: “Science confirms the distinction between the biological brain and the conscious mind. Each day, a game of mind versus matter plays out on a field defined by the problems we must solve. Most are routine, and don’t demand a more mindful approach. It’s when we’re faced with more difficult challenges that our thinking becomes vulnerable to brain patterns that can lead us astray. We leap to solutions that simply don’t work. We fixate on old mindsets that keep us stuck in neutral. We overthink problems and make them worse. We kill the ideas of others, as well as our own. Worse, we keep doing these things, over and over again, naturally and instinctively.   But it doesn’t have to be that way….”

He goes on to note in his book Winning the Brain Game that there are seven fatal thinking flaws and seven solutions to being better innovation thinkers. They are:

  1. Leaping- We tend to leap to the solution before we know the facts.
  2. Fixation- We have bias and other blind spots that affect our thinking.
  3. Overthinking- Keeping things simple helps.
  4. Satisficing- Don’t accept satisfaction with a poor idea.
  5. Downgrading- Don’t accept an almost good idea.
  6. Not Invented here- It’s easy to think all good ideas are internal.
  7. Self -censoring- We must use all our thoughts.

May also explains the best solutions for each of these flaws as shown in this chart:


Additionally, May has catalogued these and other “fatal flaws” of thinking over the course of ten years and hundreds of interactive creative sessions in which he gave more than 100,000 professionals a thought challenge based on a real case far less complex than their everyday problems. Not only did less than 5 percent arrive at the best and most elegant solution, but the solutions given were remarkably similar, revealing seven observable problem-solving patterns that can block our best thinking.

Please see the details of May’s book here.

One thing is clear — how we think and the outcome of the thinking can be dramatically improved by using these simple understandings.

Keep Innovating!

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