Innovation Tools and Techniques : Limitless Thinking

What can we do to overcome our limits in the area of innovation and innovative thinking?

One useful tool is to use the language of 'I wish.'

Why use 'I wish' when you are innovating? Quite simply, it encourages positive thinking about new futures. It helps us break through that barrier of only working with what we know is possible (known solutions).

The current case concerning the paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius contains a powerful example of limitless, innovative thinking. Pistorius had his legs amputated below the knee when he was a baby. He now uses the 'cheetah' artificial legs - or carbon fibre blades, to be more exact, to run with. The 'cheetah' is made by Ossur, an Icelandic manufacturer of prosthetic devices.

Last week the IAAF, the world governing body for athletics, ruled that despite Pistorius now achieving appropriate qualifying times, he cannot take part in the Olympics. Why? Because the IAAF's investigation has led them to believe that the 'cheetah' gives him an advantage. What we have here is an innovation that is better (in sports performance – not necessarily aesthetics.) than a human foot and leg.

I sympathise with Pistorius, who now feels that he has no chance of fulfilling his dreams of competing at the highest level.

However, let's look at the innovation work that led to the development of these carbon fibre blades. Was the team's objective to match a human leg and foot?  Perhaps believing that this is the ultimate in design; strong, flexible and responsive. Or was there perhaps some ‘limitless thinking,’ when someone said ‘I wish for artificial legs that perform even better than human ones.’

I suspect it was the latter - particularly as the company slogan for Ossur, is 'Life without limitations.' And what a result!

We have so much market data these days, about our competitors sales and product performance, it's easy to get stuck in the current paradigm - trying to match up with what the other players are doing - the norms.


Use the technique of 'I wish' at the start of the idea generation process - you might be surprised! It might set you off to create something fantastic - something you never thought possible, and which delights and surprises your customers.

See below for text and video links to the amazing Oscar Pistorius and his 'cheetahs'