reframing our questions for innovation

How we ask our questions makes all the difference

Reading Dr. Tina Seelig and Dr. Ellen Langer’s books over the last couple of weeks I have been pondering the link between mindfulness and innovation.

It seems to me that there is a strong connection between the two approaches which is worth discussion.

Reframing our questions to generate ideas

To generate new and innovative ideas Tina Seelig encourages us to ask new and provocative questions and ‘free our’ thinking to ensure that we don’t limit our view of possible solutions or ideas.

One such example of her approach is in the opening paragraph of her book inGenius

“what is the sum of 5 plus 5? What two numbers add up to 10?”. The first question has only one right answer, and the second question has an infinie number of solutions … these two problems .. differ only in the way they are framed.”

The power of possiblity from mindfulnessgenerating ideas

Dr Langer’s work looks at the link between the mind, or our internal constructs, and their relationship to our health – that is, the impact ‘how we think of things’ has on our health or as she puts it the “power of possiblity”.

Her ground breaking ‘Counter Clockwise’ experiment is just one of the many research examples which support her views about mindfulness and her belief that “less and less that biology is destiny”.

NB Dr Langer’s mindfulness is not akin to the meditation mindfulness that is all the rage at the moment although there are some shared elements.

Dr Langer urges us to be more mindful and notice things and “open our minds to possibilities” and not be constrained by our learned mindsets. This will she stresses ‘put us in the present. Her interview with MSNBC encourages small business to be more mindful

The parellels and connections

Dr Langer’s views on mindfulness are not radically different to that of Tina Seelig who asks us to ‘reframe problems’ and refrain from mindlessly accept the current or predominant perspective.

She very effectively  demonstrate that by reframing and recasting questions and problems we can drive new ideas and innovation.

I may be drawing a long bow to link the two bodies of work but fundamentally they both argue for an enquiring mind and to question the given. Mine might also be a simplistic analysis of their work but this is certainly the ‘take home’ message for me.

Finally if there is a link could it be that innovative thinking may have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Further reading and watching

Mindfulness in the age of complexity

How reframing a problem unlocks innovation

Video – Mindfulness at your small business

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