6 ways to Switch your Thinking

Have you ever been stuck and then someone suggests a new way at looking at a problem or issue and wham!

You suddenly see the situation differently.

And by doing so often new ideas, options, solutions magically emerge.

These are often random events such as a chance comment.

Or it could be an ‘aha’ moment in the shower for example.

These are incredibly powerful.

But imagine if you could switch your thinking – on demand!

At anytime, anywhere and with anyone.

Now that would be a big leap forward in your creativity and agility.

The Big Switch

The switch is of course from your usual way of thinking to a new or different way of thinking.

You switch from seeing a problem in your default way to a new way.

I call this habitual way thinking – Box Mode.

This Mode is stable, worked before, comfortable but every now and then you get stuck.

It’s then you need to switch your thinking.

For example:

You can see a problem as something to be avoided and feared.


Or you can see a problem as an opportunity to learn and grow.

By seeing (i.e. perceiving) a situation differently you free up your mind to see a much broader and diverse range of possibilities.

The switch is from Box Mode to what I call Ball Mode.

This as the name suggests is a more playful, fun and imaginative way of thinking.

But how to Switch?

Introducing the 6 Switches:

The 6 ways to Switch your Thinking.

Fortunately I have developed what I call 6 Switches:

These are easy and give you (and team) a proactive way to switch your thinking.

You can switch because you need to (e.g. you are stuck and the old approaches are not working) or you would like to improve a situation (e.g. enhance the customer experience).

I will give you a brief outline of the 6 ways to switch your thinking (i.e. Switches)

  1. Switch Perspective

Leaders often find this the easiest switch.

You simply switch the perspective you are using.

For example:

What is a competitor perspective?


What is a startup perspective?

By using a different perspective you can open your mind to new possibilities.

It’s also why having a group or people with diverse perspectives is a great way to generate more creative ideas.

But for those people who are working from home, freelancing or running their own small business for example accessing a group or team is not always possible so you can switch your perspective by yourself with equal effect.

2. Switch the Problem

Many people view the problem they are given as fixed.

Yet is it?

My experience is that defining the problem is more fluid than you first imagine.

For example:

What is the business problem?


What is the customer problem?

This switch opens up your thinking to consider the problem from the customer point of view, which might in turn suggest that your initial problem statement might need to be updated.

Even a slight change in wording can change your thinking.

For example:

What is best practice?


What is a better practice?

A small change of a few letters (i.e. from best to better) might change your thinking, where you focus and who you compare yourself to.

3. Switch the Outcome

What outcome you desire influences how you think.

For example:

What is a 1% improvement?


What might make a 100% difference?

This outcome is only a few decimal places different but you absolutely need to switch your thinking.

Suddenly if you are aiming for a 100% difference you almost need to abandon what has worked before and start from a blank piece of paper.

4. Switch the Focus

You can decide what you focus on in a situation and for how long.

For example:

My wife and I recently saw a movie together. In our discussion after the movie I commented on the action scenes and she highlighted the lack of an arc of many of the characters.

We both watched the same movie, at the same time yet reached different conclusions as to the rating of the movie.


Because based on our own unique experience, education, interest, knowledge etc we were focused on different things.

Neither of us were wrong, we were focused on something quite different.

For example:

You can focus on the facts in a situation.


You can also focus on how people are feeling.

By doing so you might gain a richer, more expansive view of a situation and what actions might work.

5. Switch the Questions

We often get trapped in asking the usual questions and get frustrated by receiving (not surprisingly) a usual set of answers.

This can work for a predictable, closed type problem.

For example:

What is our employee turnover rate this year compared to last year?

This is a fairly straightforward answer for most leaders.

Yet if you wanted to go further into this number or result you can ask what, why, when, where and how type questions.

Just like you have done before and probably just like what your competitors are doing.

But if you want new thinking you need to ask new questions.

For example:

How does our turnover rate compare to Apple for example? (why Apple – a leading brand but also random).

What does zero turnover rate look like?

What would happen if we spend all of our recruitment money on retaining staff?

These questions (for me) are more interesting and more likely to lead to new and different solutions.

6. Switch the Rules

I call this last switch – rules for a reason.

These are the explicit but most implicit rules of the game that everyone seems to follow.

The rules in this context might include your past experiences, assumptions, beliefs or conventions.

For example:

‘I always assumed that we had to sell this product for under $20’ was a comment a marketing person offered up in a workshop that I ran recently.

When challenged, the group realised this ‘rule’ had been passed down from marketing director to marketing director and reflected a marketplace that might have existed 20 years ago.

This assumption is so limiting.

What about a premium version for example or a freemium business model?

I have found that simply making these assumptions explicit means these can be challenged and sometimes overturned.

Rules often only exist in our mind which means they can be changed.

So you have the opportunity to switch your thinking whilst your competitors are playing the same old game.

For example:

The old rule was that LEGO was for kids.


The new rules are that LEGO can be used and enjoyed by people of all ages.

It can also be turned into a highly successful TV show.

In summary:

In a changing, volatile and uncertain world you can keep thinking the same way.

Or you can learn to switch your thinking depending on the need, time or situation.

By being able to switch your thinking (whilst keeping your values consistent) ensures that you can succeed in this new environment.

The 6 Ways of Switching your Thinking (i.e. Switches) I have outlined give you a tool kit to see new ideas, solutions and opportunities – instantly!


Check out the 6 Switches Canvas. It’s simple, practical and free.