Entrepreneurial success hinges on generating breakthrough ideas. But we have cognitive biases that keep us stuck in well-worn patterns of thinking. In the book Alien Thinking, three innovation professors at IMD Business School argue that people who generate truly breakthrough ideas look at their world like aliens–outsiders unburdened by the assumptions, biases and conventional thinking that constrain imagination.
We asked authors Cyril Bouquet, Michael Wade and Jean-Louis Barsoux how entrepreneurs can benefit from Alien Thinking:
What does it mean to think like an “alien”?
Thinking like an alien is a metaphor for approaching innovation challenges with an open mind.
When an alien lands on Earth, it sees our world with fresh eyes–not constrained by the same assumptions and biases as we are. It can adapt existing ideas from a different world. But as an outsider, it must learn how to navigate a new and potentially hostile environment. That’s the mindset we encourage people to adopt.
Of course, we could also have talked about adopting the perspective of a child, a beginner or an outsider. But the alien metaphor serves as a neat acronym for the five dimensions of our ALIEN thinking framework:
A for Attention
L for Levitation (meaning reflection)
I for Imagination
E for Experimentation
N for Navigation
We realize that levitation is an unexpected term, but it fits well with the alien metaphor.