By Nicola Eaton Sawford, Managing Director at Customer Whisperers
We Whisper a lot about Eureka moments here. Ask any of us for our favourite part of any project and it’ll be one of those special moments.
I recently stumbled across an intriguing article by Sharon Begley on the neurological behaviour of the brain around Eureka moments and I thought I’d share it with you.
She started out with some link word puzzles.
Think of a single word that will join to each of these words and make different words – back, clip and wall…..who came up with ‘paper’?
How about – whistle, black and farthing….. did I hear ‘penny’?
And did you think about it, get stuck and have no idea, think about it a little differently and then ‘pop’, the answer jumped forward in your head? Apparently you are using insight and not methodical thought and scientists have little idea how your brain does it.
If the truth be known, this is often how it works in Customer Experience. When we get our market research results, we are presented with a mass of customer feedback and data. Whilst very interesting, it takes time and interrogation, twisting and probing and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc before patterns start to form and links emerge. Once they start, they tend to come in a flurry and we create pictures, diagrams and sequences that make logical sense to clients and make it so much easier for everyone in the organisation to attune to customers. We love our Eureka moments!
According to Sharon, each moment of genius is preceded by a mental impasse (I’m stuck, I’ve got no idea) and then a restructuring of the problem (lets think about it differently) and that leads to a deeper understanding.
And when the ‘answer’ is visible, it seems as plain as the nose on your face. And in Customer Experience that can be tough for clients – no-one wants to be presented with an idea that seems blindingly obvious. So we tell our clients that is ‘the benefit of objectivity’ and they feel better. Then we suggest they tell the boss it was their idea….and then they feel a lot better.
Some studies suggest that thinking too hard about one thing makes solving the problem more difficult, those who can allow their thoughts to run free appear to have more success. Apparently in this ‘free thinking state’ the delta and gamma waves in our brain decrease and theta waves increase just before the Eureka moment. Ok! This is when we escape conventional thinking, make new connections between unconnected concepts and let the pieces of the jigsaw float together. Creative problem solving requires you to relax and let go.
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