Inversion is not thinking forward. It’s thinking backward.
Inversion is not pursuing positive outcomes. It’s avoiding negative inputs.
Inversion is not converging. It’s diverging.
Inversion is an approach to solving problems by flipping the direction.
Let’s say a company wants to increase employee output. Their first approach is to mandate office attendance to better monitor labor. An inverted approach could question: How do we decrease employee output? Many ideas surface, such as more meetings, more approvals, hiring due to attrition, long email chains, and irrelevant training.
The company now has a list of dangers to employee output. Instead of implementing their initial solution of “getting everyone back in the office,” they could adopt less intrusive and more effective solutions: Cancelling meetings, fostering employee accountability to avoid approval chains, or improving culture to decrease attrition.
When and how to invert:
- Problem-solving: How could I make this worse?
- Critical thinking: What if I made the opposite decision?
- Get creatively unstuck: What if Excel was my artistic medium?