The next time you’re in a meeting, look around and see who’s involved. Website issues? Interactive department. Employee training? Human resources. They’re experts in the subject, they have experience in the field and surely if anyone can solve a problem, it’s the people who know the most about it.
This makes sense, of course. Except that this is not always the case. In fact, it seems many major inventions or scientific or mathematical discoveries come from those with differing backgrounds. Big ideas can often be orchestrated if you can simply gather people with different perspectives to talk about things they don’t normally talk about.
Why? When people of diverse opinions, educations and backgrounds get together, they challenge the assumptions that groups with too similar perspectives often have. You may have been a part of a meeting made up of people just like yourself, with opinions just like yours. Was it effective? People with the same viewpoint can sometimes hold us back. This is what sociologists Andreas Flache and Michael W. Macy calls the “weakness of strong ties. ”
Strong ties, those that think like us, offer support and reaffirm what we think. Weak ties, on the other hand, not only bring new experiences but force you to rephrase information.
The solution, therefore, can often come from thinking of the problem differently and by simply talking to different people. When you’re trying to solve a problem, find people with backgrounds different than your own.
How have you developed a creative solution to a problem? Let us know in the comments below.
This is a guest by Zane Riley, PRSSA 2012-2013 National Vice President of Advocacy. Currently he is a developer at Red Letter Communications, Inc and volunteer community manager at Mother 4. You can follow him on Twitter at @zaneriley.