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For Business
March 18, 2014

Why taking a different route to work makes you more innovative

It might seem implausible, but there’s evidence from the world of psychology that suggests doing something different to what you’d normally do – like choosing a new route for your journey to work – could increase your creativity and ability to innovate.

It all comes down to flexibility. If you’re psychologically flexible, then you’re more likely to spot new opportunities and be willing to take them. These are key attributes when it comes to innovation.

But what does trying out a different way of getting to work have to do with it? Well, the theory is that doing one small thing differently, something that you wouldn’t normally do, might lead to a series of changes and surprises.

Many of us get into a routine that we feel comfortable with, and the prospect of changing it can seem unappealing. If you’re nervous about change and tend to stick to the same patterns all the time, you’re reducing the chances for the kinds of surprises that can spark inspiration.

Change is nothing to be scared of – it’s the catalyst for agility and innovation. Without change throwing obstacles in our path, there’s no need to come up with new ideas or try anything different. If this seems daunting, being more flexible will help.

In their book Flex: Do Something Different, Ben Fletcher and Karen Pine suggest the answer to learning to be more flexible is to try and make your behaviour less predictable and more spontaneous.

The way they suggest doing this couldn’t be easier: it’s as simple as doing something different. It can be something very small and seemingly insignificant – like taking a different way to work.

Why not give it a try? Here are some suggestions to get you started:

•	Don’t wear your watch for the day. •	Sit at a different desk. •	Use your phone to do something you’d normally do on a computer. •	Tell a stranger a joke. •	Go for a walk and take pictures of the things you see.


If you try one of the ideas above let us know what happens as a result and if you think it makes a difference. And why not read our Growing Agility ebook for more ideas?

Image credit: Ryk Neethling