Steve Jobs was onto something when he positioned Apple to “think different.”
Roger von Oech of Creative Think points to scientist, Albert Szent-Györgyi, who described creative thinking as “looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” He calls out common items that took on new life because someone thought differently about them like packaged baking soda as refrigerator deodorant… oyster as food… old tires as playground mulch when shredded… the list goes on.
Take the topic of affordable education and equity, as an example. Recently, my alma mater, Smith College, came up with something new: Elimination of student loan debt from financial aid packages. We’ve been hearing for years how learners are often unable to enroll in the best academic institutions because of a lack of resources. Funded through gifts to the College and recent endowment gains, this revolutionary new measure by Smith will enable the College to recruit and enroll the best students, regardless of family resources, and enable future alums to begin their careers or continue their studies with their debts greatly reduced or eliminated. There are more “goodies” involved – even special opportunities for currently enrolled students. Suffice to say, this is good thinking… done differently.
In all aspects of life – not just in product development or education – but also in career evolution, relationship building, and opportunity identification, it can be handy to do things differently. Consider this: Do you have long-standing contacts for whom you could propose a new opportunity based on the expertise that each of you brings to the table? Perhaps there’s someone who you’ve been wanting to get to know – someone who went through an interesting career change – could he or she help you to see a different way to leverage your interests? You never know what unexpected opportunities may come to mind over a simple cup of coffee. Maybe it’s time to think different.