Obvious 01


The express lane of your brain. Obvious likes to find an answer quickly then move on.

Why the habit exists

Obvious developed to be able to quickly spot what was needed and to get it implemented. It is always after the swift gratification of a workable idea and doesn’t like to exercise its thinking muscles unnecessarily. In neuroscience terms this is ‘salience’, a thinking bias where most focus is placed on the most easily recognisable things.

Obvious doesn’t like spending ages deliberating and just wants to quickly move on with things that work. This makes Obvious a bit lazy as it is always on the look out for the path of least resistance where quick answers and easy wins lie. It can succumb to what is know in neuroscience as ‘the relativity trap’, whereby we demonstrate a tendency we to compare and contrast only a limited set of items. 

How it holds you back

Obvious can make you feel good about coming up with a solution but likes to give you a false sense of achievement. Once a satisfactory answer is found, there is no motivation for Obvious to stretch its imagination and look any further. Its focus is on short-term gains, whilst blissfully overlooking the fact that others could just as easily come up with such a solution.

Obvious likes nothing better than a pat on the back and to move on without really expending much extra effort. It’s the soft touch that mollycoddles you and prevents you from stretching for more creative alternatives.

How you can train it

  1. Lose the language labels. The words we use come loaded with preconceptions and assumptions. Use mind-mapping to branch out away from these cliche words and discover less obvious associations. Now try using a number of new words to act as a springboard for your imagination.
  2. Set yourself an ideas target. Aim for 10, 20, 50, 100 as long as it pushes you. If that seems too hard, then great. Once the easy answers are exhausted, you’ll have to stretch. That’s when the magic happens. You’ll start thinking of the things that others are unlikely to come up with. to get into this habit in your day to day work, instead of looking for the right solution (singular), ask yourself, “what are the solutions?” (plural). Your mind will be primed to start reeling off a few alternatives instead of believing one answer will do.
  3. Answer the right question. Often we are solving the wrong problem because it’s the first we come across. If you stop to analyse the intricacies of the problem, there will be other angles to attack from. To explore a challenge, simply keep asking ‘why?’. This gets you looking for a route cause that may be more solvable. Re-express the question to find alternate concepts with a new meaning. For example, ‘making train journeys faster’ is a very different challenge to ‘making train journeys seem faster’ and it will lead you down a path of entertainment and comfort rather than just speed as the concept. Do this and the question you’re answering will be different than you originally set out. It will help you turn a challenge you can’t solve into one you can.

Explore all the Creatures

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