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Brain circuits

Learn the five principles required for innovative thinking 

Published 16 June 2021 in Brain circuits • 2 min read

Leaders across all industries are struggling to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation, and in the era of digital transformation where traditional business models are quickly becoming obsolete, it can be hard to know where to channel your energy. Through exhaustive research, we have identified the core principles that can help executives change their mindsets and foster positive innovation for themselves and their teams. 

The framework dubbed ALIEN Thinking illustrates the five key patterns of thinking that distinguish innovators. This framework can be applied in your quest to become more creative and innovative. 

The Core Principles of ALIEN Thinking 

Attention: Focusing on a particular context or population to understand its dynamics and latent needs. This requires the ability to look beyond your normal point of view and assess whether you are seeing the whole picture. You naturally gravitate toward ideas that fit with what you already believe to be important, but the ALIEN framework teaches you to expand the scope of our attention to see the larger reality. 

Levitation: Stepping back to reflect on the situation and make sense of it. This is often overlooked, but a relaxed brain can engage in more freewheeling thinking. 

Imagination: Envisioning that which does not yet exist and generating avant-garde ideas, often through playfulness. 

Experimentation: Turning a promising idea into a workable solution that addresses a real need. The aim of testing is to improve, not just to prove. 

Navigation: Adjusting to the forces that can make or break your solution. You must consider all stakeholders as you move our ideas forward by becoming a “diplomatic rebel” to ensure buy-in of people who might be skeptical. 

One of the key findings of our research is that people can successfully learn this type of thinking. Using the right tools, anyone can train themselves to think like an innovator. If you would like to know more, the book is out now: ALIEN Thinking: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas, 

 

Authors

Cyril Bouquet - IMD Professor

Cyril Bouquet

Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD

Cyril Bouquet helps organizations reinvent themselves by letting their top executives explore the future they want to create together. As a professor at IMD, Cyril is doing research that has gained significant recognition in the field.

Michael Wade - IMD Professor

Michael R. Wade

Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD

Michael holds the Cisco Chair in Digital Business Transformation and he is the Director of the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation. His areas of expertise relate to strategy, innovation, and digital transformation. He obtained Honours BA, MBA and PhD degrees from the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, Canada. Previously, he was the Academic Director of the Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA Program. Michael has been nominated for teaching awards in the MBA, International MBA, and Executive MBA programs.

Jean-Louis Barsoux - IMD Professor

Jean-Louis Barsoux

Research Professor at IMD

Jean-Louis helps organizations, teams and individuals change and reinvent themselves. He was educated in France and the UK. He holds a PhD in comparative management from Loughborough University in England. His doctorate provided the foundation for the book French Management: Elitism in Action (with Peter Lawrence) and a Harvard Business Review article entitled “The Making of French Managers.”

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