By Dr. Rhonda Roos, IPLI Leadership Team & IPLI Extended Mentor
Several years ago, I read an article that described a strategy called Inversion Thinking. It’s a technique where you try to turn things upside down with your thinking. You begin by considering the opposite of what you want. We usually spend our time thinking about the best ways to do something. But with Inversion Thinking, you stop and think about the ways you do NOT want to do something. Once you know these particular things, you can make certain to avoid them.
Want a better relationship? Then think about all the things that could ruin that relationship! Things like spending money behind your partner’s back, hiding things that shouldn’t be hidden, talking negatively about each other. Avoid those things.
Want to be more productive? Then think about all the things that could really distract you and make you less productive! Things like leaving your phone right beside you as you work, working on several items at the same time, going to a coffee shop to work when you know you can’t concentrate in that environment. Avoid those things.
Leaders don’t need to use this strategy with everything. You don’t have time for that. My personal experience tended to use this strategy with big projects at our school district – projects like introducing a new literacy project for all of our English teachers or mapping out detailed plans as our school went through a renovation project. Our Leadership Team would map out our tentative plan with as many details as we could embed. Then we’d stop and take as much time as it took to think about everything we didn’t want to happen with those projects. We’d ask questions like, “What could ruin this literacy initiative where none of our teachers will get on board and refuse to do the work?” and “What are some of the worst things that could happen with our classrooms, gym, parking, and instruction in the next two months while this phase of reconstruction occurs?”
A few ideas always came up that we had not addressed in our original plans. It always made me feel more competent and confident as a leader as we shared the revised plans with our staff. Drive your brain in reverse, and you can begin to spot errors and find roadblocks that are not obvious at first glance. Avoiding mistakes is just as important as achieving success.
Invert. Always take time to invert your thinking with your systems, initiatives, and projects.
(Information from James Clear, author of Inversion: The Crucial Thinking Skill Nobody Every Taught You)