“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” -Pablo Picasso

In the late 1990’s the drug company Eli Lilly was pouring hundreds of millions into development, trying to find a follow-up to Prozac, but their researchers were producing very little.

Desperate, CEO Alpheus Bingham posted some of their most difficult scientific problems online, offering rewards to anyone who solved them. To his surprise, incredibly creative answers poured in from all over the world.

Harvard professor Karim Lakhani, who has studied the site Bingham created, found the secret to its unprecedented success is outsider thinking. Problems were more likely to be solved by scientists working outside of their own fields, at the boundaries between disciplines.

Eli Lilly’s researchers had been shackled by the Einstellung Effect, the brain’s tendency to stick with strategies it already knows rather than searching for superior ones. This phenomenon has been studied extensively in chess, where players are drawn to move sequences that have worked for them in similar situations, failing to see better ones.

What are your own “go-to” strategies for achieving results in your life? These are likely things you fall back on time and time again because they work well for you. Could success be preventing you from developing better approaches?


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