Why Outsiders Solve Big Problems Best

Having a great depth of knowledge in a specific field limits your problem solving abilities to what has worked in the past, says entrepreneurial polymath Naveen Jain. 

What's the Latest Development?

Naveen Jain is an entrepreneurial polymath, serving on the board of the X Prize Foundation while building lunar landers to harvest the moon's resources. His willingness to throw himself into the deep end of fields which he has little knowledge of is the secret to his success. He has revolutionary ideas concerning everything from philanthropyending feel-good projects in favor of scalable businessesto educationtraining students to teach avatars the same information they receive as a way to involve higher thought processes. For his innovative ideas, Jain has drawn mostly from this life experience. 

What's the Big Idea?

Experts, because of their intricate knowledge of a given field, are often limited in their view of the future by how that field has developed over time, seeing only slight modifications on past advances as optimal. As part of the X Prize Foundation, Jain helped issue a $1 million challenge to clean up oil spills. While BP has spent $20 billion on finding solutions, the X Prize contest yielded a result that was five times better than BP's best technology and 99% efficient. To boot, one of the contests' final teams was composed of a tattoo artist, a dentist and a mechanic. 

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

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