Thinking Tools/Reversals

Many innovations can be inspired and imagined by reversing the viewpoint, components, users, and other elements of an existing product or solution. Consider how the various reversals listed here might transform an old idea into a new one, identify an opportunity, or offer a new viewpoint that can help reframe a problem.

Our thinking changes when we reverse our point of view.

Cause ↔ Effect

Customer ↔ Supplier

Bottom up ↔ Top down

Emergent ↔ Designed

Distributed ↔ Centralized

Giver ↔ Recipient

Scarce ↔ Abundant

Payer ↔ Collector

Share ↔ Hoard

Talk ↔ Listen

Input ↔ Output

In ↔ Out

Top ↔ Bottom

Upright ↔ Sideways

Left ↔ Right

Big ↔ Small

Close ↔ Distant

Near ↔ Far

Fast ↔ Slow

Strong ↔ Weak

Forward ↔ Backward

Movable ↔ Fixed

Dynamic ↔ Static

Linear ↔ Circular

Linear ↔ Radial

Circular ↔ Spiral

Spiral ↔ Helix

Helix ↔ Möbius strip

Microscope ↔ Telescope

Focused ↔ Circumspect

Complex ↔ Simple

Black ↔ White

Objective ↔ Subjective

Light ↔ Dark

Day ↔ Night

Light ↔ Heavy

Foreground ↔ Background

Forest ↔ Trees

Headline ↔ Footnote

Push ↔ Pull

Fall ↔ Rise

Obvious ↔ Cryptic

Obvious ↔ Incorrect

Known ↔ Unknown

Master ↔ Slave

Powerful ↔ Powerless

Own ↔ Rent

Democracy ↔ Tyranny

Comedy ↔ Tragedy

Play ↔ Work

Teacher ↔ Student

Teach ↔ Learn

Doctor ↔ Patient

Expert ↔ Novice

Predator ↔ Prey

Victim ↔ Perpetrator

Guilty ↔ Innocent

Male ↔ Female

Rich ↔ Poor

Growing ↔ Shrinking

Fearful ↔ Confident

Timid ↔ Bold

Costly ↔ Free

Constrained ↔ Free

Reader ↔ Writer

Problem ↔ Solution

Good ↔ Bad

Good ↔ Evil

Certain ↔ Unlikely

Rich ↔ Poor

Rough ↔ Smooth

Soft ↔ Hard

Sharp ↔ Round

Edgy ↔ Cozy

Frightening ↔ Comforting

Maximize ↔ Minimize

Negative ↔ Positive

Cost ↔ Benefits

Difficult ↔ Easy

Active ↔ Passive

Accuser ↔ Accused

Competition ↔ Cooperation

Win Win ↔ Zero Sum

Not ↔ Now

Specialize ↔ Generalize

Temporary ↔ Permanent

Aggregate ↔ Separate

Isolate ↔ Congregate

Divide ↔ Unite

Component ↔ System

Minority ↔ Majority

Old ↔ Young

Generous ↔ Greedy

Secret ↔ Transparent

Copyright ↔ Copy left

Kind ↔ Cruel

Helpful ↔ Hurtful

Humble ↔ Arrogant

Vindictive ↔ Compassionate

Authority ↔ Expertise

Loyalty ↔ Fairness

Me ↔ You

Ideological ↔ Empirical

Theory ↔ Practice

Rigid ↔ Flexible

Near ↔ Far

Fast ↔ Slow

Fear ↔ Curiosity

Local ↔ Global

Tribal ↔ Global

War ↔ Peace

Love ↔ Hate

Reification ↔ Instantiation

Symptom ↔ Cause

Power ↔ Reason

Passion ↔ Reason

Anecdote ↔ Representative evidence

Despair ↔ Hope

Advocate ↔ Criticize