Innovative Thinking – Search divergently for possibly relevant facts

Check your assumptions at the innovation door.

Innovative Thinking – Search divergently for possibly relevant facts


One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is bringing an idea into the marketplace without having a good understanding of the realities it will face upon implementation.  

Finding facts or collecting facts can steer a ship in a completely different direction than a ship that has it’s mind made up.  What’s important here is the recognition that collecting more information early in the innovative process can genuinely increase the chances of success.

So Many Facts Help Build A Foundation

If the entrepreneur can keep their excitement for an idea in check, they can prevent making costly mistakes later.  Successful entrepreneurs mitigate risk, which is achieved by reducing the uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding their enterprise.

Uncovering facts about the personal, organizational, and competitive dynamics entrepreneurs will face in bringing the product or service to market gives them understanding that improves their odds of success.  

As clarity is gained and uncertainty is reduced, entrepreneurs gain more credibility and legitimacy among their stakeholders, all of which helps them gain needed resources and support needed to make the business a success.  

A critical strategy for gathering good data is to defer judgment and logic.  Do not prejudge information.  Simply capture it for later consideration.  Therefore, entrepreneurs must consider any information that might relate to their fuzzy situation.  It is not enough to say, “I know the facts, let’s get on with it.”

They must push beyond the obvious to get as many bits and pieces of knowledge as they can.  Entrepreneurs must ask questions about the problem, whatever comes to mind.

Different Perceptions Uncover Different Facts

Entrepreneurs must assume that whatever they think of about the problem is automatically relevant.  In later steps they can analyze the information.  A metaphor for understanding the importance of deliberately separating these steps might be helpful in acquiring this skill.  

Think of the Saturn rocket that launched Apollo missions to the moon during the 1960s.  Soon after the rocket left the ground, its first stage dropped off.  The second stage took over to lift the rocket higher before falling off in turn.  The third stage then propelled the landing craft on a course to its final destination.  Becoming aware of a new opportunity or problem is like the first rocket stage.  It’s enough to get the entrepreneur started, but it’s only the beginning.  

The problem as they first perceive it may not at all represent the problem as they finally perceive it.  Searching for facts about the new opportunity or problem is the second rocket stage, the bridge between the two perceptions.  

Only by opening their mind to as many potentially relevant facts as possible can entrepreneurs ensure that they will improve, expand, and enrich their final perception of the opportunity.

One helpful way for acquiring this new perception is by turning to others who might have knowledge on the situation.  Popular sentiment has entrepreneurs as self-driven people attached to their vision of success.  However, in reality, successful entrepreneurs often take a more humble position and recognize that they don’t have all the answers.  

They are open to considering what facts others can reveal to them, in order to avoid making costly mistakes that could have been prevented, or better yet, to find opportunities others reveal to them.  Therefore, it is incumbent on entrepreneurs to ask themselves, “In what other ways could others help me view my situation?  Who else might have a useful but different perspective I could draw from?”

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