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Creativity Tool - Role Swap

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2007-03-08 06:47:07     
Article by Amir Elion

Sometimes the thing that is blocking you from making a breakthrough is the fact that you are looking at things from the same point of view that you have been used to. It may be worth while to break away from that limiting viewpoint and look at things in a whole new way.

A technique that may help you do so is "Role Swap". It may not be easy to implement at first, but in time you may learn to use it regularly and almost automatically, and it may prove to be one of your most powerful thinking tools.

Here is an outline for using it. I will also use a personal example to make the creativity technique clearer:


Understand your point of view: Ask yourself through which "glasses" are you looking at the situation. What are your interests in it, why are you set on certain ways to do things, etc.

Example: A few years ago I built a business plan for starting up a company to train workers and managers using board games. My interest was to build an innovative business that I was interested in, and make money - of course.


Identify other points of view: Use a large piece of paper to draw other points of view on the subject. This should include people or groups that are influenced by the subject or that might have a say on it.

Example: I met several potential investors to discuss this idea and examine options for running the project together. I had to face their questions and consideration which proved to be quite different than mine.


Play the role of another point of view: This is probably the toughest part of the technique. You need to get into the mood and mind set of one of the people you listed on step 2, and to truly represent their interests and considerations.

Start by stating the two or three thing which are most important to them, then go on to interpret the situation according to these considerations.

If you want to make this stage even more fruitful, try to play the role of more then one person involved. If you find it difficult at first, you may ask someone to listen to your "role-playing" and give you feedback if you are succeeding in making a true representation of the other side's point of view.

Example: Examining the points of view of the investors, I realized that some parts of my plan were not well thought through. I had to reconsider some of the basic assumptions behind the business. I actually tried to think like the investors - what would I do if someone approached me with the same idea?


Decide on a practical change to your initial approach: In order to make the insight you should gain on step 3 more than philosophical adventures, make at least one decision based on what you've learned.

Decide to change the way you act on the subject that would be in line with a different point of view. Make sure you give this new approach sufficient time to prove itself and produce new directions and opportunities.

Example: I finally decided to make a more cautious approach to the project. I found a way to test this project as a part of my next job as an employee in a management training firm - and tried out how it worked. I found out that some of my calculations were indeed wrong, and that I had to find a different business model if I wanted to make it work.

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