Inversion for Idea Generation
September 04, 2020
Interesting quote from a book about rapid skill acquisition:
Imagine the opposite of what you want. A counterintuitive way to gain insight into a new skill is to contemplate disaster, not perfection. What if you did everything wrong? What if you got the worst possible outcome? This is a problem-solving technique called inversion, and it’s helpful in learning the essentials of almost anything. By studying the opposite of what you want, you can identify important elements that aren’t immediately obvious. Take white-water kayaking. What would it look like if everything went wrong?
- I’d flip upside down underwater, and not be able to get back up.
- I’d flood my kayak, causing it to sink or swamp, resulting in a total loss of the kayak.
- I’d lose my paddle, eliminating my maneuverability.
- I’d hit my head on a rock.
From this exercise you’ll get a list of (less obvious) things to work on. Imagine a prospective customer installing SSE as a trial — what’s the worse possible outcome? How can we alleviate this potential risk / disaster? (edited)