One of its many talents is the ability to spot patterns in life and business. We can interrupt these patterns to disrupt industries.
This is what the Elon Musks, Steve Jobs and Albert Einsteins of this world do/ did.
Or we can connect disparate patterns to create innovative patterns that give us a competitive advantage.
They also do/ did this as well.
In the 19th century, the German mathematician Carl Jacobi made a number of important contributions to science during his career.
He was, however, well known for his ability to solve extremely complex problems by following a simple strategy of “man muss immer umkehren” or, roughly translated, “invert, always invert.”
In the early 1980’s Cirque de Soleil was one of the hundreds of traveling circuses that needed to make more money in a declining market.
They created a challenge. “How might we change the circus experience from something cheap to entertain kids, to a high end event for adults?”
First, they wrote out common complaints about the standard circus experience.
Circuses are famous or infamous for the following:
Cheap, often tacky entertainment for kids
All circus shows followed the same format
They used unknown performers
Terrible animal welfare
Cirque de Soleil wanted to stand out and make a racket so they inverted the circus experience and did the opposite.
High-end circus entertainment for adults
Every touring show would use a different format
They would employ world-renowned performers
The previous market leaders, The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circuses stopped trading a few years ago after over a century in the circus business.
Cirque de Soleil is now a world-famous billion-dollar entertainment company.
Invert, or die.
What is 7% of 50? Don’t ask yourself this. It’s hard. Simplify it by inverting the question.
Ask yourself what is 50% of 7. It’s 3.5, of course. It’s the same answer, with a simpler question.
What is 12% of 25? Is a hard question.
What is 25% of 12 is a lot easier. Both methods will give you the same answer.
Invert, and simplify.
Want to create iconic art that stands out and gets noticed?
Andy Warhol inverted colour to iconic shots to create art. He took famous images and thought about how to make them different.
The best way to do that is to break art into components and invert an aspect that retains the iconic aesthetic but transforms it into some new and fresh.
Banksy inverts the items to create thought-provoking paradoxes that stand out and gets attention.
Invert, and create
As a younger man, I suffered from anxiety.
I was a control freak. On a subconscious level, l thought by controlling everything I was protecting myself from anxiety.
This is a common but poor strategy.
Control freaks aren’t protecting themselves from anxiety, their control freakery is creating it.
Most things in life and business are uncontrollable and our futile attempts of trying and failing to control them actually create anxiety, not protect us from it.
Roman and Greek philosophers worked this out thousands of years ago.
The dichotomy of control is a Stoic practice that basically states some things are within our control and others are not. It provides us a framework to be effective at solving problems by dividing them into segments. Things we can control, and things we can’t.