In business we are trained to be analytical. We respect data, targets, percentages, market shares and ratios. MBA students analyse case studies with detailed spreadsheets. We frame problems in terms of metrics and numbers. For example we might ask:
These are all good questions which start from an analytical and factual standpoint and will generate analytical thoughts and ideas. But we have to remember that our staff and our customers are people. And people are driven by feelings more than by numbers. So a fruitful avenue of approach is to replace logic with emotion and restate each question. Instead we might now ask:
By starting from a more personal and emotional level we are likely to come up with more and different ideas. Anything we can do to make our customers or people feel delighted with us or proud of us is worth exploring. Any idea which stops our customers or people feeling angry, frustrated, disappointed or sad is also worth exploring.
At your next management meeting, for a change, focus on feelings and emotions rather than data and logic. It will get you thinking in new ways. It will lead you to novel and productive ideas.
Paul is a professional keynote conference speaker and expert facilitator on innovation and lateral thinking. He helps companies improve idea generation and creative leadership. His workshops transform innovation leadership skills and generate great ideas for business issues. His recent clients include Airbus, Microsoft, Unilever, Nike, Novartis and Swarovski. He has published 30 books on lateral thinking puzzles, innovation, leadership and problem solving (with over 2 million copies sold). He also acts as link presenter at conferences and facilitator at high level meetings such as a corporate advisory board. He has acted as host or MC at Awards Dinners. Previously, he was CEO of Monactive, VP International of MathSoft and UK MD of Ashton-Tate. He recently launched a series of podcast interviews entitled Insights from Successful People.