Opinion

To Change the Way You Think, Change the Way You See

Adam Brandenburger

By Adam Brandenburger

One way in which great artists, entrepreneurs, and creators of all kinds come up with the insights that enable them to change the world is that, very literally, they do not see the way most of us do.

By Adam Brandenburger

“Think Different,” said the famous 1997 Apple advertisement. Excellent advice, obviously, to all creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

But, along with thinking differently in order to come up with revolutionary new ideas or products, there is also seeing differently. Great creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs look at the world in ways that are different from how many of us look at things. This is why they see opportunities that other people miss.

The story of Velcro is well known. A Swiss engineer, George de Mestral, decided to look more closely at the burrs (seeds from plants) he found clinging to his clothing after a walk in the woods. He took out his microscope and saw that nature had designed hooks on the burrs, which had then attached themselves to looped fibers in his clothing. The famous hook-and-loop alternative to the zipper, under the name Velcro, was born. (Today, there is a whole field, called biomimetics, devoted to imitating nature in order to solve human problems.)

Read the full Harvard Business Review article.

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Adam Brandenburger is J.P. Valles Professor