4 Reasons Why Blue-Sky Thinking Will Power You To Spectacular Results

In a world that is highly competitive, where people are looking for breakthrough solutions that could provide instant results, the power of Blue-Sky thinking cannot be emphasized enough!

Interestingly, this morning as I was going through my mails, my internet connection timed out and all I could see was a cursor spinning around on the screen trying to retrieve my mail, while the entire screen went blank.

When I was looking at the blank screen that was teeming with data a minute ago, it struck me that very few of us do Blue-Sky thinking.

So what is Blue-Sky Thinking?

The dictionary definition of Blue-Sky thinking is ‘creative ideas that are not limited by current thinking or belief.’  What it means is thinking of options/solutions without being fettered by what you have done or capable of doing or anything else that may constrain you in any possible manner in arriving at the best possible solution.

So, why is the Blue-Sky approach to problem solving, so important?

1.  Break Free From Limitations

When you look at a problem from a Blue-sky perspective you don’t rule out any solution, no matter how infeasible it may seem and regardless of what it may cost you.

For instance, if your investment portfolio is not giving you the returns that you are looking for and a majority of your investments are giving you negative returns, then one solution could be to exit the non-performing investments and re-invest in investments that perform. However, this is just one way of looking at this problem and the result that it provides, could still be sub-optimal.

The Blue-Sky way of looking at this problem would be to re-evaluate your investment goals, look at the asset classes and investment classes that could enable you to meet your goal and if need be, liquidate the entire portfolio and move into another asset class altogether.   This could entail temporary losses.  However, it could provide greater opportunity of not only recouping those losses but also of meeting your investment goals, in the short to medium term.

2.  Sometimes Ordinary Solutions Only Perpetuate A Mistake You Made In The First Place

The fact that a human being is capable of working in multiple areas and acquiring a range of skills, is unquestionable. So, there is really no reason for a person who has got into a profession for the wrong reasons or who is a misfit in his or her profession, not to change it.

A friend of mine is a qualified accountant and quite good at the work he did. However, he was unhappy with his work-life for a very long time and did not like the work that his professional qualification entailed. He tried to move from accounting to finance, acquired some new certifications to move from finance to investment management, but he remained unhappy and disconnected with his work.

He is a very creative person by nature. His real problem was that his work did not give him any outlet for his creative instincts. After trying out a lot of solutions that gave him only momentary satisfaction, he took the drastic step of changing his entire profession and moved into the advertising industry in a creative role.   Today he is well settled in the industry and very happy with the work that he is doing.

The point is if you constrain yourself while coming up with solutions to any issue that your are dealing with, the outcome will be limiting in itself. It is only when you start thinking outside the box that you allow a truly creative solution to emerge.

3.  Desperate Situations Demand Desperate Measures

Sometimes, you have no option, but to use the Blue-Sky approach.

One such example is the Nissan Motors turnaround. In 1999, Carlos Ghosn was sent to Tokyo to rescue ailing automobile giant Nissan Motors.   He did not restrict his turnaround strategies to conventional ones but rather took some bold steps, slashed costs, sold of un-performing assets, instituted performance management measures and a whole lot more. His bold strategies eventually paid off when he brought back Nissan Motors from the brink of bankruptcy to profitability, one year ahead of schedule.

Here is a link to the entire turnaround story in Carlos Ghosn’s own words:

Saving the business without losing the company

4.  Blue-sky Thinking Has Influenced Business Transformation

Apple Transformation

The transformation of Apple is one of the most iconic examples of Blue-sky thinking. The company that had done well in the 1980s experienced a slump thereafter, so co-founder Steve Jobs, returned in 1997 as an advisor to help bring it get back on track.

Consider the iPhone which was actually three separate products that were path breaking on their own – the iPod, the mobile phone, and the Internet communications device – combined into a new iconic one based on Steve Jobs’ vision of an unknown need. This device literally took the market by a storm and the rest is history!

Led by Job’s visionary Blue-Sky thinking, Apple was reinvented as a mobile technology company, distinguished by such products as the iPhone and the iPad, products that continue to fly off store shelves, even today.


Evan Speigel was told by classmates in his Stanford product design class that no one would want impermanent photos.  However, Spiegel chose to ignore his detractors. He framed his idea as a fun extension to texting that put spontaneity back in the digital world, and not as a competitor to Instagram.  The results of that thinking are here for everyone to see!

Challenging status-quo and forcing yourself to think of imaginative and creative solutions could power you to exponential results.  This is sometimes not  possible with conventional approaches to problem solving, relying on plain logic and limiting yourself to what you consider is feasible.

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them ~ Albert Einstein





About the Author:

Srinivasan is an independent consultant working in the area of strategy and technology interventions in the public sector domain. He has worked in companies like IBM and TCS and has over 30 years of experience spanning 24 countries.

Srinivasan R

Management Consultant at Independent Consultant