Go to the edges of culture to elevate your ideas

By Alex Rückheim

Peak A & Peak B Thinking Illustration


Have you ever had one of those special but rare moments when someone has an idea and you look at each other and go: How? What? Wow. The feeling that you’ve cracked it; that you’re onto something really big. That creative spark that will turn your growth curve into a hockey stick. This is what will elevate your business from solid to special.

An episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table inspired me to write this piece… and here’s why.

El Celler de Can Roca is considered one of the best restaurants in the world. People from all over the world travel from far and wide to dine there. The restaurant is currently run by the Roca brothers; Joan, Josep and Jordi, three uniquely distinct but equally talented chefs.

This was not always the case. Before 2000, only the two older brothers, Joan and Josep, were involved. They established a very successful restaurant, earning themselves a Michelin star. But additional stars remained elusive.

Then, in 2000, their younger brother Jordi joined and something magical happened. The most rebellious and free-spirited of the three brothers, Jordi took over the pastry kitchen. Too much resistance from his brothers, Jordi experimented in the weirdest and most wonderful ways. He combined flavours that no classically trained chef – like his brothers – would ever combine; he tested techniques that were unconventional, if not absurd. A maniac let loose in a traditional, highly acclaimed kitchen. Or a creative genius? What followed were two more Michelin stars, being named Best Restaurant in The World twice and Jordi being chosen as best pastry chef in the world. What happened?

“Jordi is contributing something more. The magic effect. The effect of thinking differently; of contrary thought; of going against the current. Truth is, Jordi brought a profound change. I am absolutely convinced that our current success has a lot to do with the talent that Jordi brought. He makes us richer. He makes us grow in a different and original way, in which different worlds unite. And this makes us different.” Joan and Josep Roca


Dare to go against the grain to do your best thinking

It is one thing to be good at what you do. And it is another thing to surprise. Surprises don’t happen when everyone says ‘yes’. But when there’s someone in the room who says ‘no’.

In her TEDx talk ‘Dare to disagree, Margaret Heffernan beautifully explains how the best model of collaboration is, in fact, “thinking partners who aren’t echo chambers.”

This probably goes some way to explain why the UK government decided to recruit “super-talented weirdos” in an attempt to shake up the government. Dominic Cummings, the British prime minister’s chief adviser has called for “true wild cards” with “genuine cognitive diversity”.

Constructive conflict is a catalyst for creativity. But it requires us to work with people that are very different from ourselves (which, by the way, is difficult because humans are neurobiologically wired to prefer people much like themselves). It means that we have to seek out people with different backgrounds, different disciplines, different experiences and different ways of thinking… and find ways to engage with them.


Go to the edges of culture to elevate your ideas

And we’ve found a way. We collaborate and co-create with the creative outliers, rebels and mind-expanding individuals from The Sense Network. As an extension of our team, they help us and our clients to see things differently. They provide a fresh perspective, they go against the grain, and they say it like it is. It’s the individuals in The Sense Network and their perspectives that make us go: How? What? Wow. Just like Jordi.

  • How an SAS elite soldier turned wealth manager helped us to understand what financial security means.
  • How a left-wing artist helped us to challenge the future of artificial intelligence and how you design for the disinterested.
  • How a Mormon-born belly dancer helped us to redefine sexy and challenge traditional beauty norms.
  • How a hearing impaired creative director helped us to create a healthcare experience that is more authentically connected with what people need.
  • How a pro-gamer helped us to understand how productivity hacking is about shortcutting.
  • How a mindfulness practitioner helped us to develop a product roadmap for a plant-forward world.

At Sense Worldwide, we talk about going from Peak A to Peak B when looking for breakthrough ideas; ideas that will elevate your business. Peak A, analytical thinking, is where you can get too with what you currently know. Peak B, breakthrough thinking, is the summit where you shift gears from incremental to disruptive innovation; where you go from solid to breakthrough strategy. But to find Peak B you need to introduce something new… fresh, different perspectives.

The next time you have an idea, why don’t you seek out someone who you think will disagree with you and have a conversation. We call them ‘Fresh Eyes Session’. Try it out and see where it takes you.

Contact Alex today to set up a call: alex.rueckheim@senseworldwide.com


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