Handler saw the potential of the Bild Lilli doll only because she was an outsider. I she´d spoken German or been a local - if she´d grasped the bawdy backstory - the she never would have considered the doll for her daughter. She would have diregarded it as a tasteles product, yet more evidence that an adult doll wasn´t feasible. And if she´d been a toy executive, the idea probably wouldn´t have occurred to her in the first place, since everyone knew that little girls want to play with babies. Ruth Handler didn´t know any of this; her misunderstanding led to the insight. She was just a mother lost in a foreign country, and that´s why she invented the Barbie.
Author Jonah Lehrer explores the power of outsider intelligence. At PopTech 2009, the best-selling author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist, notes that, paradoxically, lacking expertise on a subject can be an asset. Its what allows us to see the connections, to see the problems that no one else can see.