News companies can learn from Dutch art of “omdenken”

By Newsplexer Projects

Newsplexer Projects

United States


At the end of the INMA European News Media Conference, participants embraced saying “yes” in a game to flip their thinking and embrace situations that seem like problems.

Dave Mangene and Chris Perryman of Omdenken explained the concept behind the Dutch art of omdenken, which translates to “flip thinking.”

“Omdenken is when you take your problem, whatever it is, and make it your friend,” Mangene said.

Dave Mangene Omdenken asks INMA audience participants to flip their thinking.
Dave Mangene Omdenken asks INMA audience participants to flip their thinking.

In a time when media companies face increased competition and pressure to innovate, this type of approach can help to create an environment where discussions become more solutions oriented and experimental ideas or out-of-the-box thinking is more encouraged.

As an example, Mangene told of a group of people they needed to organise a bike ride in a very windy area of the city of Groningen. The unpredictable wind makes it difficult for riders to traverse an area. 

The first idea of building a wall along a biking path was impractical and expensive. Instead, organisers created a “Ride the Wind” ride, in which a path is chosen right before the ride that goes in the direction of the wind. At the finish line, a bus takes riders and their bikes back to the starting point. By flipping their thinking, the organisers turned the wind from a problem into an advantage.

“In flip thinking, we accept whatever movement is happening,” Mangene said.

To demonstrate their point, Mangene and Perryman asked the conference audience to engage in a game in which they always had to say “yes” to any question asked or answer quickly to open-ended questions — even if it is something you think there is no way you could say yes to. They then asked participants to form teams and solve problems in given scenarios by engaging flip thinking. 

Mangene encouraged the crowd to take this concept back to their organisations. Instead of saying “yes, but” to a problem, they need to embrace it, saying “yes, and.” This encourages more open, solutions-oriented dialogue — and encourages individuals to speak up more freely.

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