No one likes the feeling of being stuck or struggling to find a solution to a problem when you have a deadline to deliver on. Yet most of us rarely tap into our imaginative capacities to help us solve a thorny issue. Instead we try and white-knuckle a solution by doing the same thing over and over again, looking for the facts, going over the same old information, talking to the same people…
“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” ~ Albert Einstein
It doesn’t matter what problem you have, the key is to bring a fresh perspective to it – known as mind-wandering in neuroscience. Whilst there are a lot of different creative problem-solving techniques, ways to generate ideas and stimulate the imagination… we thought you might like to experience one you probably haven’t tried before, involving a wire-frame cube named after the Swiss crystallographer Louis Necker (1880s.)
Fig.1 The Necker Cube
Just for fun, let’s try and experiment…
- We would like you to think of a problem before you start, something you’ve been wrestling with and write it down…. then clear your mind.
- Begin to stare at the picture of the necker cube (or you can do it using the recording below.)
- Staring at it notice now that there are two different perspectives where it looks like the front and the back of the cube move (like the old woman / young woman illusion). Notice that the cube spontaneously reverses its orientation, first one of the larger squares seems closest to you and then, sometimes suddenly, the other one does.
- And notice that with concentration you can flip between the two perspectives easily. We’d like you to try and do that now – to flip the cube back and forth wilfully.
- It is not about how fast you do this, it is more about the process of doing it.
- As you improve, start to flip the cube in time with your breath, deep belly breaths where your out-breath is twice as long as your in breath (aiding relaxation) or your out and in breath are the same amount of time (aiding focused concentration). Flip it for between 5 – 7 minutes…
- Now go back to the problem you thought about at the start… and notice what’s happening now. Write down your solutions.
- If you still haven’t quite cracked it, clear your mind once more and repeat the process.
The necker cube is a proven method for approaching a problem or a challenge in an imaginative and innovative way. It forces us to think outside the box – to change our perspective – which helps us discover creative / novel solution to a problems.
Creative problem solving is a skill. And like all skills we can all learn and develop them with a bit of practice. The more you use problem-solving techniques like the Necker cube, the more flexible, adaptive and creative your thinking style will become. However, some problems aren’t as easily fixed, need careful consideration and external advice to solve. If you’ve got issues in your business you don’t seem to be able to get on top of, why not get in touch? Not only do we help employees and businesses thrive, but we’re also able to help increase their creativity and productivity with business coaching, strategy workshops, wellness programmes and much more. You name the problem and I’m sure we can help or if not put you in touch with someone that can.
For more on the science behind the Necker Cube check out