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[Exercise] 5-Dimensional Thinking

261 Nov 01, 2022

IIt's hard (maybe impossible) to avoid stale thinking.

We have 100's of problems to solve and ideas spinning in our heads any given day.

We have to be efficient—we have to show up and lead.  

So it's our human tendency to find mental patterns to solve the problems in front of us to create paths of least resistance.

But our short cuts cause us to forfeit great thoughts for stale ones.

I do this exercise with teams to help them think about their business in new ways. I call it 5-Dimensional Thinking.

It starts with reflecting and dreaming about the business, then expanding your thinking with 5 prompts. It's free writing exercise to open up your mind and let new connections spill out. Don't edit yourself. Don't look for "right" answers. You need a pen, blank paper, and maybe a timer. I usually give teams a few minutes on each prompt, but you can spend a few hours doing this exercise to really dig deep.

Take 5-10 mins to reflect and dream about the business... 

REFLECT on highs and lows over time. Internal wins and external ones. List them out.

DREAM about what's ahead. Where do you want to go? What needs to happen? What would breakthrough look like? Add to your list.


Then, think through these 5 prompts and write whatever comes to mind. Give yourself at least a few minutes to process and write on each prompt.

  1. ABOVE: Get in your airplane and fly over the your business at 30,000 ft. What does it look like? If you were not in the day-to-day, how would you see it? What does it look like? What's around it? What is at the core?
  2. AHEAD: Hop in your time machine. Think five years into the future. What does this business look like? What does it look like if we don't do anything different? What would we want it to look like? What would have to change to make it look like what we want? What do we we need to make sure we don't loose?
  3. INSIDE: Come back to the present and start to look inside yourself. How do you feel about this business? What emotions does it evoke in you? How do your people feel about trading their life to work here and for you?
  4. OUTSIDE: Now look outside of yourself and the walls of your business. Look to the market around you. What do you see? What matters to your customers? Are there up and coming disruptors? Shifts in culture or economies? What are others missing that you could capitalize on?
  5. UPSIDE DOWN: What if your business was in a different business. What if you ran a sports franchise, a hotel, a bakery, a school, an airline, or an auto shop? Pick one. If you were in that business, what would your strengths and weaknesses be as a business? What can we learn from that business that applies to ours?

From here you can take any thoughts that stand out to you to your team. Or even, better do this exercise with your leadership team and discuss what comes up. Our thinking gets even better around the table.

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