By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help spark your new product creativity. Reading time: 3:38.
The vice president walked into his staff meeting late as usual. Wearing a gas mask.
Eyes widened and jaws dropped around the table. His staff couldn’t make sense of what they were seeing.
“No, I’m not a terrorist and I ‘m not going to blow the place up,” he laughed while taking the gas mask off his face.
You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief among the staff, their hearts still pounding faster than normal, their breathing still accelerated from the visual shock.
“But maybe this gas mask can spark our creative discussion this morning on new product ideas,” the vice president added in ramping up his teaching point.
He explained that Kleenex, the $1.2 billion facial tissue and category leader, initially was developed as a filter for a gas mask during World War I. Then as a facial cream remover in 1924. And finally as a facial tissue that today catches running noses in 140 countries!
“In each new product launch, the creative thinkers responded to a changing customer need,” he observed. The vice president picked up the gas mask in one hand and a box of Kleenex in the other.
That morning the leader made an issue out of tissue, an issue he and his staff seized creatively for the remainder of their new product idea meeting.
Waved the box of Kleenex, he quoted Aristotle: “Everything is both what is and what it may become.” Then he launched the staff meeting into a discussion on creative versatility and stimulating a continuous improvement mindset.
He tossed out examples of creative new products or creative new uses for old products whenever he thought the fires of thought needed rekindling.
To help you fire up your own creative thinking, enjoy eight of the most popular Leadership Mints on Creativity posted over the last two years.
From Girdles to Speedboats
CREATIVELY — an improvising leader — turned a stuffed teddy bear into a heart patient recovery tool. See Improvising, Sir Cough-a-Lot to the Rescue.
CREATIVELY — an improvising leader– turned melting ice cream into a speedboat. See Turning An Irritant Into a Pearl.
CREATIVELY— an improvising leader– turned the way hay grows in rows into the television monitor. See Milking Mother Nature.
CREATIVELY— an improving leader– turned his living room into a snow slope and invented indoor skiing (Nordic Tracker) . See Be Unreasonable to be a Leader.
CREATIVELY– an improvising leader– turned a hodge podge of foods in an almost empty refrigerator and bare pantry into a new stand-alone product (Caesar Salad) See Feeding Others When Your Cupboard is Bare.
CREATIVELY — an improvising leader– turned a hand soap into a new creative use and opened up a new relunctant market that saved the iconic brand. See Spiking Your Creative-Problem Solving Juice.
And CREATIVELY– an improvising leader– invented the ice cream cone and potato chips. See Riding Your RODEO.
No wonder philosopher Jean Paul Sarte echoed a continuous improvement and creative mindset theme when he said: “Man is not the sum of what he has but the totality of what he does not yet have, of what he might have”
Even wearing a gas mask. In peace.
Seek creative resources to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
SUBSCRIBE: Have a Leadership Mint delivered to your E-mail every business day.
It’s free. Just click the SIGN ME UP box in the upper left column.