Skepticism, openness and impasse

Learning, innovation, invention and problem-solving are all connected. They all require an ability to create a new insight. The insight might be new to you (learning and problem-solving) or it might be completely new to the world (innovation and invention).

In his book, Gary Klein, describes 3 paths to insights that rely on contradictions, creative desperation and connections to challenge underlying assumptions and anchors, and restructure our beliefs.

Each path actually requires a different mindset. Contradictions require us to be open to new assumptions and willing to challenge things even if they violate our current beliefs. We need to be skeptical. Creative desperation requires us to critically assess our current assumptions – it might be a weak or strong assumption, but something that is stopping us from moving forward. We need to challenge ourselves. The connection path requires us to be very open and ready to speculate on potential new realities. In this case, skepticism can actually be detrimental.

Sometimes being a novice is helpful. Sometimes we need to be an expert to spot anomalies or apply thinking from different domains to solve problems.


Is there a problem, idea or big question you’re working on at the moment that could do with some fresh impetus? Be more skeptical. Be more open to new ideas. Identify and challenge your own assumptions and beliefs – change one assumption to be the exact opposite and see how it might change your idea.

Insights aren’t obvious so there is no magic way to force them, but do explore ways that might bring a different perspective.


Related content