Getting Unstuck with Fresh Perspective

One of the core tenants of Human Centered Design is being able to approach design challenges with a "beginner's mind". It's a way of intentionally leaving behind our knowledge, assumptions, and prior experience so that we can see more clearly. Instead of being fixated on what we think we already know, it opens the door to being able to see more deeply and get at the underlying truth. It's a powerful tool. But it's also one that's easy overlook and then slip into old ruts.

Even though I should know better, I'm amazed at how quickly I can shift from that powerful outsider's view into one where I've become the insider, unable to see things clearly. I got a fresh reminder on this when a coworker with a fresh perspective helped me get unstuck with some insightful questions.

In practice, I think this comes down to two things: 1) We need to be intentional about cultivating this ability in ourselves and 2) having trusted friends to provide a fresh look can be invaluable. To grow this ability in myself, I'm trying to build up better checklists of questions to ask myself as I'm working through the design process. A set of general, but targeted, questions can help make sure I'm not getting tunnel vision. For the days when I really get stuck ... those are the times I'm most thankful for sharp friends and coworkers.

How are you keeping a fresh perspective on your work?