Turn your thinking around – and get better results

By Matt Danswan

“Why do I stand upon my desk? I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way”

This is a powerful tool. Artists and authors down through the ages have known the value of ‘seeing with fresh eyes’. Looking at familiar subject matter from a different standpoint – like flipping an image over, upside down or in reverse; reducing it to black & white or cropping sections.
In business this principle can be a lot of fun, let’s explore thinking in reverse:


Ask the opposite question: For example, as a small business owner trying to drive more customers to your business, don’t ask the obvious, ask “How do I drive customers AWAY from my business?” “How do I make LESS money from each transaction?”

Make it a group exercise: Get your team or select customers involved, have some fun. Ideas such as reducing shop signage, limiting parking, being rude to customers, untidiness, poor stock levels etc. There will even be more pointed specific examples.

Then flip them back: The ideas unleashed might surprise you as it overcomes a lot of mental blocks.


Zig when others Zag: Malcom Muggeridge once said “Only dead fish swim with the current”.

Anita Roddich, who started the ‘Body Shop’ empire based on recycling & materials free from animal testing, said “I looked at what everyone in the cosmetics industry was doing, and went in the opposite direction!”

Challenge long-held assumptions: For example Henry Ford revolutionised car production by challenging the assumption that workers needed to move from car to car and developed the moving production line still in use today.
Many companies have found that reversing or changing the traditional order of doing things can eliminate unneccessary work, so ask the question in your business.


Phrase the objective in reverse. Brainstorm solutions to this and then reverse those solutions. Question the normal order you do things. What assumptions are you making about the order, or the methods being used?


Peter Irvine
Peter is Co-Founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, author of ‘Win In Business’ and ‘Building your Business, your People, your Life’ and keynote speaker.

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