Work For Your Innovation "Eureka" Moment

Monday, 17 April 2017 11:00
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The difference between a bad idea and a great one can be minor.


Many dramatized mysteries include a "Eureka moment" where the protagonist achieves a moment of supreme clarity that enables him/her to solve a particularly perplexing puzzle. This happens in real life, too. Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends...

Work For Your Innovation"Eureka" Moment

In the historical movie the Imitation Game, English mathematician Alan Turing experiences a Eureka moment while he and his team of mathletes labor over decoding German encrypted messages. He overhears an off-handed comment that causes him to make a terrific simplifying assumption about German messaging practices that allows the team to finally break the code. The Allies go on to win the war. In movies, television shows (e.g. note Dr. Gregory House) and novels, the Eureka moment is a fairly common dramatic device that precedes the solving of a particularly vexing puzzle. Usually this moment involves a prompt that causes the protagonist to make a previously unconsidered mental connection. We know that Eureka moments can occur in real life...noting Isaac Newton, Archimedes, etc... Real life Eureka moments can be every bit as dramatic as in the arts. While these breakthroughs tend to attract attention, most technical problem solving successes result from a team grinding through a variety of options. Individuals and teams can improve their success odds by examining problems in a variety of ways. This includes seeking inputs from diverse, and even unlikely sources. These inputs can come from within or external to the problem solving core group. For instance, for a surfaces modification project conducted earlier this year, our team identified several viable solution options from an array across several unrelated industries. Our results would have been substantially more limited if we had only explored solution options that closely resembled the case we were specifically studying.

Here's a Harvard Business Review article entitled "Embracing Bad Ideas To Get To Good Ideas" that discusses how bad ideas can be morphed into great ones by some relatively minor shifts: Examining a variety of alternative solution inputs doesn't guarantee success. However, it does expand one's thinking and can lead to better outcomes. When we actively seek diverse inputs and approaches in problem solving, our success odds should significantly improve.

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