Embrace Ambiguity, Failure, and Fun | Mindset & Agility – The Rocket Fuel for Customer Experience Success

This is the second post in a series titled Mindset & Agility – The Rocket Fuel for Customer Experience Success. 

Last week, we started picking mental locks outlined in Roger von Oech’s classic book A Whack on the Side of the Head. This week we’ll focus on three more thinking processes that interfere with our ability to craft creative solutions for our customers. According to Roger, these thinking traps are:

  • Avoid Ambiguity
  • To Err is Wrong
  • Play is Frivolous

In A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger suggests that clarity is essential for communication but can be limiting when it comes to ideation. In essence, when we don’t embrace the multi-faceted nature of problems we often rush to simple and incomplete solutions (typically selecting the first logical solution that comes to mind). Similarly, Roger believes that errors “are a sign that you are diverging from the well-traveled path” since an error can be “a stepping-stone to some new idea you might not have otherwise discovered.” He goes onto suggest that you must “strengthen your ‘risk muscle.’ Everyone has one, but you have to exercise it, or else it will atrophy. Make it a point to take at least one risk every twenty-four hours.”

Finally, Roger challenges the idea that play is frivolous. He says that “If necessity is the mother of invention, play is the father.” Rather than viewing work and play as opposites, Roger suggests we should see play as a source or re-creation. It enables us to relax the critics and editors inside our heads and frees our creative spirit.

Routinely, I help leadership teams enter a playful and safe ideation space before we tackle serious customer experience challenges.

Inspired by Roger, here are this week’s challenge questions:

  • In what ways do you and your team embrace ambiguity?
  • Is your team making enough errors, or are you playing it too conservatively?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being far above average), how safe is it to play with implausibly creative ideas?

I’d love to explore how you are approaching creative customer solutions with your team. Please schedule a time to talk. You can also download a complimentary eBook based on my new McGraw-Hill release titled Stronger Through Adversity.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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