Back in the ‘90s, engineers at Nokia presented a touchscreen, Internet-enabled prototype for a device that looked uncannily similar to what become the wildly successful iPhone. Nokia’s engineers made their case for why the product had consumer appeal, but the company’s decision-makers ultimately deemed the project too risky and scrapped it. That missed opportunity is likely one of the reasons why Nokia’s global market share has decreased from 38% in 2003 to 1% in 2017.
Decisions like Nokia’s are made every day due to an unwillingness to set aside skepticism and tap into imagination. Contextually, it’s understandable: most of us have spent enough time in an office to earn our right to be a Professional Skeptic. Skepticism keeps us focused and efficient — but it doesn’t exactly strengthen our skills of imagination.
Before a company can come up with a truly disruptive idea, its people must first be open to unexpected and surprising ideas — like, say, tires in vibrant colors, instead of just black. To help people consider new ideas instead of just dismissing them, there’s a technique called P.P.C.O., which was invented by a trio of professors in 1981.
The first “P” stands for “Pluses.”