The ability to see patterns is a powerful tool to understand complexity and innovate. The problem sometimes is not such much of ability as that of not getting to the optimal vantage point.

Example: Rhett Dashwood’s Google Earth Alphabet.

I believe we are wired to see patterns. Sometimes we just need to get to the right vantage point. To see the forest beyond the trees.

The problems is that most of what we do on a daily basis, most of what we are (and how we are) trained to do, are detailed focused. We prune the trees, rake the undergrowth, and keep the fire trails cleared and open. We simply don’t get up on a helicopter often enough!

(Or to follow on from my previous post The practice of zooming in and out, we don’t zoom out enough.)

Another problem with business-as-usual is that we are trained to operate within the focused confines of our specialities, and indeed the confines of running “a business” (implication: there is only one way to do business). And so we learn to see only the same-same set of patterns no matter what the dataset.

Example: Rubin’s Vase.


When we find ourselves standing at a crossroads (whether personally or professionally), or when faced with sudden catastrophic change, the ability to shift our vantage point dramatically, and the ability to see beyond the ingrained patterns, could yield surprising insights.

If you were to get in a helicopter now and look down on your current challenge, what would the view look like?

Consider the opposite of what you think you see before you. Perhaps the profit problem is actually a cost problem?