Reacher once observed that that anything can be reverse engineered:
If one human or group of humans put something together, then another human or group of humans can take it apart again. It’s a basic principle. All that’s required is empathy and thought and imagination.
That’s why I keep an innovation journal. Been doing it for years. It’s an ongoing list of ideas for products, services, inventions, businesses, organizations and other media.
And the majority of the entries are the result of simple reverse engineering. Walking through the world, noticing problems, making assertions, thinking about how someone might build an organization to own that process, figuring out where the leverage is, deciding what the resources are and then imagining how that invention might ultimately help move the world forward.
It’s not only fun, but it’s also a daily practice of empathy and compassion and imagination and curiosity. By assuming the role of an innovator, I’m forced to say yes to every shred of curiosity that I notice around me. I’m primed to disrupt my own point of view. I’m constantly searching out to find regularities and relationships in my environment. And I’m invited to presume that there might be something outside my own experience.
In fact, I give away ten of those wacky ideas on my blog every week for people to steal.
Want to execute a little reverse engineering of your own? Next time you come across a ridiculous new product that you can’t believe actually exists in the world, try this. Set aside your judgment for a moment and imagine yourself sitting in the original marketing meeting for the company that launched it.
Who was there? What questions were asked? Who was trying not to get fired? And what was the critical moment that led to the company ultimately green lighting production?
That’s reverse engineering. It’s like doing curls for your imagination.
Remember, every profound innovation is based on an inward journey. Both inside your own head and inside the heads of others.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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