Recently, my team found ourselves with only one hour to escape a psychotic serial killer’s apartment before he came home from the bar. Thankfully… it wasn’t real life. Some of us actually went on a team outing to Paniq Room – a live escape game where people are locked in a room to decipher hidden clues to “escape” before the time runs out.
It was an exciting and challenging game where we had to think fast without a lot of direction. None of us knew what to expect when we stepped into the dimly lit apartment with its eccentric paraphernalia and were given absolutely no additional guidance except to escape before the time runs out.
As the door was locked behind us, we realized we had to be scrappy and experimental because there wasn’t time to prepare the perfect strategy. This got me thinking about approaches to uncovering insights to solve tough problems.
I’ll admit I’m a bit of a perfectionist and often don’t share things until they’re past a certain point of being completed. But this experience quickly highlighted how traditional approaches and perfectionism can unnecessarily hinder progress.
In one instance during the lock-in, we uncovered a Sudoku-like puzzle that we had to solve in order to reveal a highlighted code to a locked box. We had a few guesses to some of the numbers in the code, but I wanted to erase it and start over so it could be done the way I normally approach a Sudoku puzzle. While I was slowly reworking the puzzle, my colleague noticed the very little time we had left and started taking some of the guessed numbers and trying them out on the lock. I didn’t believe that it could work that way, solving Sudoku had to be done in a methodical way, the way I knew it to work. But, before I knew it, she had it unlocked, so we quickly abandoned the puzzle to move onto the contents of the unlocked box to escape the room.
So often in insight and innovation work, we can get hung up on pre-judging outcomes or ideas in closed conference rooms, letting our fear of failure keep us spinning ideas around in our heads and wasting time when sometimes we just simply need to put unfinished ideas out there with consumers to quickly test, adjust, and retest. The “test, pass, fail, and replace” model is no longer efficient. Constant experimentation is truly key to get out of that trapped box of perfectionism.
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