Innovation and Misinterpretation

Misinterpreting something is often seen as a  bad thing – there is another way to look at it.

It is not possible to know for cetain if we have understood another point of view fully, because we are ourselves and not someone else – so there is always some degree of misinterpretation.  The other extreme is when we get something wrong such as interpreting a red traffic light as ‘go’.  The gradient of states in between could look something like this.

The Gradient of Misinterpretation

Between shared understanding and embarrassment lies the potential for innovation and new ideas.  This is one aspect of what we are trying to leverage when we use brainstorming – someone says one thing that helps us to think of something else.  It also works well on Twitter – the text limit forms a constraint that limits shared understanding.  If we can avoid going too close to embarrassment and wrong, we get a fertile field for new ideas.


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  1. Pingback: Obliquity | Comfortable Ambiguity

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