Someone reached out after looking at my book, Idea Magnets - 7 Strategies for Attracting and Cultivating Creative Business Leaders. They wondered about my contention that experts can miss opportunities and issues that people who are completely new to a situation can readily see. They requested examples where this is the case.

I love questions like that. They make me revisit the original thinking and ideas, either further explaining them or altering them if they no longer apply.

4 Times Newbies Are Very Insightful


In response, I developed the following list where newbies enjoy wonderful opportunities to see things that experts miss.

1. When There Is Missing Information

Experts steeped in experience, knowledge, and process design rarely still think about all the steps involved in what they are doing or explaining. When they demonstrate something or provide instructions, they are challenged to think through all the things that someone completely new must know to operate successfully. In these cases, a newbie who needs step-by-step instruction will be quicker to identify missing information as they struggle to succeed.

2. When Multiple Options Are Possible

Think about developing an online form with a Submit button on a website. People experienced using online forms know to click Submit when completing the form. A newbie, though, might mistakenly click other buttons or links on the page. What happens then? Absent experience, conventional wisdom, or learned approaches, newbies might see many more options than expert and select options people with experience would never consider. Anyone who’s watched Beavis and Butthead understands this. Many of their adventures emerge from selecting a viable option that experts failed to eliminate from consideration.

3. Nobody Is Asking Why?

Experts must consider why questions early on and determine the reasons that something is or isn’t the way it is. The challenge? The world moves forward and can change, making an original why answer irrelevant. A newbie, especially an inquisitive newbie, can confront a new situation and ask why questions that no one asks anymore. Their fresh why questions can generate meaningful new insights that demand updating what previously seemed finished.

4. People Are Ignoring New, Unexpected Analogies


Experts have already identified smart analogies that provide clues for designing, performing, and behaving in their areas of expertise. When struggling to make sense of something new, they make quick comparisons to inform them. Newbies don’t naturally know where to seek out analogies to figure something out. Picking unusual analogies to make unusual comparisons, though, is tremendous for generating innovative ideas and approaches.

Mired in Expertise? Try Creative Thinking Questions!

In these four examples, newbies may immediately land on the best opportunities and most important issues. That’s exactly the point, though.

If newbies’ fresh eyes fail to lead them down the expected path, they will lead them to new places that hold tremendous potential for fresh insights, innovations, and fixes.

That’s why we love including people with fresh eyes in every collaboration. When we can’t for whatever reason, we employ creative thinking questions that help newbies and experts see like newbies who also have deep experience. The net of it is that anyone can see and imagine with innovative, fresh eyes! – Mike Brown

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