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Published:December 12th, 2013 14:15 EST
5 Ways To Reframe Your Thinking To Be More Like Elon Musk

5 Ways To Reframe Your Thinking To Be More Like Elon Musk

By Kaihan Krippendorff

Drawing parallels between Elon Musk and Steve Jobs is irresistible, but how do big thinkers like them come up with their innovative ideas and how can we reframe our thinking to do the same?

In "The Shared Genius of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs" by the TED Talk curator Chris Anderson, we get a bit closer to a dissection what their unique attributes actually are. But I think we can dig one layer deeper.

I have been thinking about this a lot recently, because my firm, Outthinker, is attempting to translate our strategic thinking process into a class for 5th graders. Our idea is, if we could begin instilling the kind of thinking in our young children that helps must-solve problems like global warming or human space travel, then those children may grow up and solve the big challenges the human race will face. We have begun working with an expert in child creativity from Columbia University`s Teachers College. And we initially think there are five modes of thinking that are important to begin developing:

Visionary thinking Systems thinking Creative thinking Critical/analytical thinking Influential thinking These five are not random. They follow very closely the framework we use to train executives and help them solve important strategic problems: Imagine, Dissect, Expand, Analyze, Sell (or the IDEAS framework). Here I pull out the key pieces from Anderson`s article to illustrate these five forms of thinking.

Visionary thinking:
Anderson writes that "One of the most exciting things about human beings is our ability to imagine alternative futures." He also gives us a peek at Musk`s thinking by writing that "A full seven years ago, he posted an article titled `The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan,` which outlined the basics: three generations of cars, first the super-high-end sports car, then a sporty four-door family car, then a mass-market car. And underpinning it all, the conviction that the cars wouldn`t just work, but be lusted after. No doubt at the time many in the auto industry chuckled at his naivete. They`re not laughing now."

Systems thinking: The idea here is that often an opportunity reveals itself to you because you see the interconnection of two things, the interdependence of things, that others cannot see. For example, Anderson tells us that Musk has potentially historic insights every week and describes one: Musk realizing they could build a rocket to run on methane (CH4).

He writes, "Okay, it doesn`t sound particularly historic. Until you realize that a rocket of that spec has adequate range to escape Earth`s upper atmosphere and travel to Mars. And that it so happens that Mars has plenty of carbon dioxide (CO2) and permafrost (H2O), which could be neatly converted into the aforementioned methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (O2). Which means you could create the fuel for the journey home right there on Mars itself.