Unconventional thinking is the ability to look at things from a different perspective, to challenge the status quo, and to explore new possibilities. Unconventional thinking can help creativity and problem-solving in many ways, such as:
- It can help generate original and novel ideas that stand out from the crowd. For example, some of the most successful advertising campaigns have used unconventional thinking to create catchy slogans, memorable logos, or humorous scenarios that capture the attention of the audience.
- It can help overcome mental blocks and biases that limit the scope of solutions. For example, some of the most innovative inventions have used unconventional thinking to break free from the assumptions and constraints of the existing paradigms, such as the airplane, the internet, or the smartphone.
- It can help find new connections and opportunities that others might miss. For example, some of the most successful entrepreneurs have used unconventional thinking to discover new markets, new customers, or new ways of delivering value, such as Airbnb, Uber, or Netflix.
Unconventional thinking is not something that only a few people have. It is a skill that can be learned and practiced by anyone who wants to improve their creativity and problem-solving abilities. Some of the ways to develop unconventional thinking are:
- Asking open-ended questions that challenge the common sense or the conventional wisdom. For example, “What if we did the opposite of what everyone else is doing?”, “What if we could start from scratch?”, or “What if we could combine two unrelated things?”
- Seeking diverse perspectives and experiences that expose us to different ways of thinking and doing things. For example, reading books or articles from different fields or genres, talking to people from different backgrounds or cultures, or traveling to new places.
- Experimenting with new ideas and approaches that test our assumptions and hypotheses. For example, trying out different prototypes or variations, getting feedback from potential users or customers, or measuring the results and outcomes.
Unconventional thinking is not only useful for problem solvers, but for anyone who wants to be more creative and solve problems more effectively. By using unconventional thinking, we can discover new possibilities, create more value, and make a positive difference in the world.
The Wright brothers were able to achieve the first successful airplane flight through unconventional thinking and persistent experimentation. They did not have any formal engineering education or training, but they had a passion for aviation and a curiosity to learn from their failures. They also had a love of debate and argument, which helped them to challenge each other and refine their ideas.
Some of the ways that the Wright brothers demonstrated unconventional thinking were:
- They studied the flight of birds and used their observations to design their wings and control system. They realized that birds change the shape of their wings to steer and balance in the air, and they applied this principle to their gliders and airplanes.
- They built their own wind tunnel and tested hundreds of different wing shapes and sizes to find the most efficient ones. They also invented a new method of measuring lift and drag, which gave them more accurate data than previous methods.
- They designed and built their own engine and propellers, since they could not find any suitable ones on the market. Their mechanic, Charlie Taylor, made the engine from scratch, and the Wrights carved the propellers by hand. They also devised a clever way of connecting the engine to the propellers with bicycle chains.
- They experimented with different ways of launching their airplane, such as using a catapult, a rail, and a tower. They also chose locations with strong winds, such as Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and Huffman Prairie, Ohio, to help them gain speed and lift.
- They learned from their mistakes and improved their designs after each test flight. They also documented their progress and shared their findings with other aviation enthusiasts through letters and journals.
The Wright brothers’ unconventional thinking was not only a result of their individual genius, but also of their collaborative relationship. They were brothers who grew up in a supportive family that encouraged intellectual curiosity and debate. They worked together as partners in their bicycle business and in their aviation experiments. They had different personalities and opinions, but they respected each other and listened to each other’s arguments. They also challenged each other and pushed each other to do better.
The Wright brothers’ story shows us that unconventional thinking is not something that can be taught in a classroom or learned from a textbook. It is something that emerges from a combination of passion, curiosity, creativity, persistence, collaboration, and debate. It is something that can help us solve complex problems and achieve extraordinary goals.