Brainstorm Business Strategy Decision Making Problem Solving

Problem? Draw on different pools of knowledge!

(Excerpt from WINX)

Richard Freeman, a Harvard economics professor, conducted a study on diversity in science. He discovered that published scientific research gains greater attention if the authors are ethnically diverse. Even diversity in career and work fields makes a difference.

“When you’re working on a problem and you pool insights from non-analogous areas, you’re likely to get significantly greater novelty in the proposed solutions, for two reasons: People versed in non-analogous fields can draw on different pools of knowledge, and they’re not mentally constrained by existing, “known” solutions to the problem in the target field. The greater the distance between the problem and the analogous field, the greater the novelty of the solutions.”

For example, 3M developed a breakthrough concept for preventing infections associated with surgery over a decade ago. The experts they consulted weren’t doctors, surgeons, or anyone in the medical field. They went to a theatrical-makeup specialist who was knowledgeable about preventing facial skin infections which occurred when applying makeup.

Heinz ketchup sales began to drop in the 70s because people got tired of trying to get their product out of its iconic glass bottle without spraying ketchup everywhere. So, Heinz turned to another industry using different bottling methods for their product—the shampoo industry. In 2002 Heinz created an inverted ketchup bottle with a unique cap that kept the ketchup from leaking out but allowed users easy access to dispensing the product. Sales began to climb again.

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