Coming up with creative solutions to complex problems is inherently difficult. "Thinking outside the box" is counterintuitive. If you're having trouble, get started by assuming everything you know is wrong.
Picture: Luigi Mengato/Flickr
As business blog Entrepreneur points out, asking dumb questions makes most people uncomfortable (who wants to appear stupid?) but it's actually essential to solving problems that require atypical solutions:
An easy way to actually do this is to physically write down all of the assumptions inherent to a question ("Do we have to install software on someone's computer?"), to question the question itself ("What if we didn't have to compete against software companies?"), to work backwards from the desired solution ("What are the different ways we could backtrack from a billion-dollar company to where we are now?"), and to systematically change perspectives when brainstorming and planning ("How would a five year old, a computer hacker, a magician or an ice skater approach this question?").
Finding clever solutions to a problem isn't easy, but it's incredibly rewarding if you can come up with a product or idea your colleagues haven't thought of. That process frequently requires that you ask the questions that they're not asking. If you're not sure where to start, begin with the fundamentals.