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Challenging, questioning, refusing to accept what is believed to be a fixed truth; all of these are constituent parts of a fresher, more innovative approach.
When we look at the world around us, do we constantly seek to view our surroundings with fresh eyes or are we mired in the doldrums of conformity, seeing only what others see and believing only what we are told? More importantly, how often are our attempts to get a fresh perspective on a problem scuppered by hidden assumptions which drag us away from creating innovative solutions leaving us fire-fighting when we should be building differentiated experiences?
Take Stonehenge for example. Whilst theories for its existence have been many and varied over the years they have generally been along the lines of druidic worship around or inside the stones; in other words taken from an ‘earth bound’ perspective. Now a book by former museum director Julian Spalding argues that the stones were actually built as a foundation for a vast raised platform on which ancient peoples would worship the heavens.
Taking his inspiration from the raised monuments left by other ancient civilisations Julian Spalding commented to the Guardian “All the great raised altars of the past suggest that the people who built Stonehenge would never have performed celestial ceremonies on the lowly earth.” Whether his theory is correct or not it is a perfect example of shaking off hidden assumptions and of looking elsewhere for inspiration which can help to put a completely fresh perspective on a problem.
In more recent times Stonehenge hit the headlines when its new visitor centre was sited at some distance from the monument itself. Critics at the time commented that separating visitor centre and site would discourage visitors from including Stonehenge in their itinerary. Here too they have been proved wrong with the visitor centre being credited for increasing visitor numbers by 8.4% to more than 1.34 million visits in 2014.
Challenging, questioning, refusing to accept what is believed to be a fixed truth; all of these are constituent parts of a fresher, more innovative approach. And it doesn’t really matter if that approach is being applied to looking anew at ancient puzzles, to generating extra footfall to a visitor attraction or in designing new products or services in any business sector. Instilling a culture of innovation in any organisation can help those within the business to look anew at processes and products and to devise solutions which never would have come about had the business retained its linear, segregated approach.
One of the reasons for this is the way in which innovation shakes up the traditional perspective of organisations operating in comparative isolation as they devise products to ‘sell’ to customers. A culture of innovation may bring with it a move towards internal collaboration, but it also seeks to draw in others from outside; from suppliers and partner organisations to customers and even rival firms. Changing the perspective, looking outside of the established route to development and drawing on the wealth of ideas which come from those who wouldn’t traditionally be seen as part of the ideas spectrum can help businesses to look beyond the confines of normality and into the realms of potential.