By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here are few ideas to help you become even more creative.
Let’s rodeo! Bronco busting, bull riding, calf-roping, I can’t even imagine how challenging it must be to compete in the most dangerous eight seconds in sports. My butt gets sore just thinking about a 2,000 pound bull throwing me around like a ragdoll. In fact, just the thought of shaking up my world in an explosive burst for survival got me to thinking how I could learn to rodeo in my head –creatively– if not on my butt –painfully.
Randomly select two words out of the dictionary or two business entities out of the phone book. Then rearrange them to make a creative connection between them.
Take for example the words rock and pet. More than $5 million worth of ordinary rocks called Pet Rocks were sold in the last 90 days of 1974. The rearranging of rock into a pet made a creative connection that sparked 1.3 million people to pay $4 each for a rock. Use the same random approach to create similes that broaden the scope of a subject.
Take for example the word “life.” now randomly select a word from the dictionary and connect those two words or concepts with the bridge phrase “is like.” So if you selected the word “confetti”, you would rearrange your concept of life to generate the creative thought: how is life like confetti.
Gutenberg’s press oriented two previously unconnected ideas: the wine press and the coin punch. Gutenberg put the coin punch under the force of a wine press so that it left images on paper.A Notre Dame football coach invented a new offensive formation when he oriented two previously unconnected ideas: a burlesque chorus dancing routine and four running backs that gave rise to the famed Four Horsemen of Notre Dame.
- A photographer saw plastic models of the human brain advertised. He purchased 16 of these white balls. He painted them in variety of colors. And he oriented them as if they were balls on a pool table. He left one of the brain balls white — the “cue” ball. He called his creation: RACKING YOUR BRAINS.
- The first self service grocery store oriented two previously unconnected ideas: the self service system of a cafeteria and a grocery. In four years, Clarence Saunders oriented himself from a $20 a week clerk to a $4 million grocery empire.
A waffle, distorted at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1903, was rolled into the first ice cream cone when the nearby ice cream vendor ran out of cups. Napoleon distorted the traditional rules of warfare in capturing an Austrian army. The beaten Austrian general complained that Napoleon “doesn’t know anything about the rules of war. First he attacks us from the rear, then he comes to our left. It’s preposterous. He goes against every tradition.” Alexander the Great distorted the expected when he took a creative approach to untying the Gordian knot. He sliced the knot in half with a swing of his sword and became King of Asia. Can you distort a familiar object so that it stimulates you toward an even more challenging, even more rewarding, even more productive goal?
Exchange the soda in an ice cream soda with syrup and you have an ice cream sundae. The first sundae was invented when the ice cream soda was exchanged to circumvent a law forbidding ice cream sodas to be sold on Sundays in Evanston, IL.
- George Crum, a chef in the 1850s, overstated the thinness of the potatoes he was frying and invented potato chips. A guest at Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga Springs, NY complained that his fried potatoes were not thin enough. He sent the potatoes back to the kitchen three times. Finally the head chef got mad. George Crum angrily sliced the potatoes paper thin, fried them, and sarcastically served them to the guest. The guest was delighted and so are millions of other potato chip lovers today.
- Another example of overstating gave birth to the first Neighborhood Crime Watch programs. Edward deBono, the author of numerous books on creative thinking, posed this exaggeration: what if a policeman had six eyes? That exaggeration sparked the creative thinking that led to the formation of the Neighborhood Crime Watch program.
So let’s rodeo. Utilize those five strategies– Rearranging, Orienting, Distorting, Exchanging, and Overstating– in sparking your own creativity to set challenging and inspiring goals. Like the rodeo professional performing in those 8 seconds of terror, seize the moment. Become lost in the present. As Abraham Maslow writes in his book: The Farther Reaches of Human Nature: “The ability to be lost in the present seems to be a sine qua non for creativeness.”
Like rodeo professionals, creative leaders rely on spontaneity. They think without thinking about how they think. As Albert Einstein said: “Perhaps we live best and do things best when we are not too conscious of how or why we do them.” Like riding a bull.
How do you inspire creative thinking in your organization. I look forward to your thoughts. Use the Comments section below.
Parlay your creative options to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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