A dose of creativity stimulation
to ignite fresh thinking
Theodor Seuss Geisel wanted to make reading fun. The children’s books of his time were mind-numbingly ordinary “Dick and Jane” type books. Dick and Jane were two sensible children who did predictable things and always obeyed the rules.
Geisel had other ideas for children’s books, weird ideas. He thought up strange characters doing odd things. He concocted unusual poetic meters and bizarre artwork.
In 1957 he wrote The Cat in the Hat under the name Dr. Seuss (pronounced ‘Zoyce’ like voice – yes, really). The book was rejected by several publishers for being too unconventional. His work was too weird! But when he eventually found a publisher, the book was an instant success. Children loved this strange cat who turns a cold, wet day into a day of fun and mischief. The Cat in the Hat is still one of my favourite books. It’s hard to believe that it was published in the 50s, it still feels so fresh and contemporary.
Ever feel like December is rushing up at you like a crazed reindeer with a firecracker in its antlers?
I will never get used to Christmas decorations appearing in shops literally the day after Halloween. One day your grocery shop is watched over by cobwebbed skeletons and menacing pumpkins and the next day you’ve got smiling Santas and rosy-cheeked elves beaming down at you from the rafters.
Meantime, your brain hasn’t quite accepted that September is over yet, and you have literally 4,358 things to before you take your year-end break. Which is now… next month. In addition to getting all this work done, you need to assist your kids with their exam preparation and/or attend a myriad of year-end activities, plus finish off all that admin that you really don’t want to drag into a new year.
Ironically, when you need your energy and focus the most, it can be at its lowest ebb. You’ve got your foot flat on the pedal, but your energy tank is blinking empty,...
I recently rewatched the thought-provoking 1989 hit movie, Dead Poets Society.
Remember, that iconic film? Robin Williams plays John Keating, an unconventional English teacher, who inspires his class of boys at an elite conservative school to be courageous freethinkers who seize the day.
While watching the film, it dawned on me how much it influenced my thinking. I can now see some of the fruit grown from the seeds of ideas planted all those decades ago.
Take a trip down memory lane with me and be reminded of these powerful lessons from the memorable character, Mr Keating. (If you’ve not seen the film yet, what are you waiting for?)
“You must strive to find your own voice because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are going to find it all.”
Like all creative thinkers, Mr Keating celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of each of his students. Right from the start he encourages...
I have been loving the Netflix series, Abstract – The Art of Design.
If you’ve got a Netflix account, I highly recommend this series for inspiring expansive thinking and exploring new fields and perspectives (especially if your background is in the field of management and finance like mine!) It has done wonders for ‘filling up my creative tank.’ The series invites you to ‘step inside the minds of the most innovative designers in a variety of disciplines and learn how design impacts every aspect of life.’
One particular designer in the series really blew me away and it’s what I learned from this person that I want to share with you today. She is such an inspirational person, that one of the engineers in her team said of her:
“One conversation with her changed the course of my career.”
The engineer had been on a path to becoming an architect but after one...
Three years into the US war with Vietnam, the US had suffered terrible losses of pilots and fighter planes. 644 pilots were killed, missing, or taken as prisoners of war. They had also lost 532 aircraft in combat.
In 1968, 33-year old lieutenant commander Dan Pedersen was assigned to create a new fighter school at the Navy's Miramar Air Station near San Diego to help stop the loss of all these pilots and planes. An extensive study, called the Ault Report, was done into the reasons for the losses. The report showed that were problems with the aircraft missile systems and that the pilots were not following the rigorous technical specs for the missiles. In essence, the pilots were not following the rules. The directive given to the young lieutenant was he needed to enforce the rules and teach the pilots to be more disciplined and stick to textbook laws of tactics.
When the young Lieutenant Pedersen took over, he applied more expansive, creative thinking. When he examined the report, he...
'Am I creative?' you may be asking? I’ll answer that with another question: ‘Are you human?’ If your answer is ‘yes’, then my response to you is, ‘Well then, you are creative.’
If you don't feel particularly creative, don't fear. You are not alone. Studies show that as we get older, discipline, the pressures of life, fears and societal norms tend to make us ask fewer questions, laugh less, and display less creativity than we were as young children. In fact, our education system has historically favored knowledge and critical thinking over imagination and creative thinking to serve businesses in the industrial age. Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk “Do schools kill creativity?” is the most watched TED talk of all time. It has been viewed over 70 million times. The subject of creativity in education is clearly of interest to a great number of people.
Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk...
Sometimes something is so simple that we miss it.
I am someone who inadvertently tends to overcomplicate things. Making something simple is not easy. Charlie Chaplin said: “Simplicity is not a simple thing.”
So, you can imagine my joy when I heard one of the fundamental principles of creativity summarised in a beautifully simple way by creativity expert, Dave Birss, in his ‘How to have fresh ideas’* course. The basic premise of this principle is: To be more creative, change your diet.
My diet? I hear you say.
Yup, but possibly not the diet you are thinking of. Let me rewind a little.
First, let’s clear something up. Creativity is not binary. It’s not like an idea is either creative or not. It’s not a light switch that is either on or off. It’s not as if some people are creative and some are not.
This is nonsense.
Creativity is the use of imagination to produce something that is...
From MEH to WOW in 3 easy steps? If you’re into Wordle right now, your brain is no-doubt whirring into action. No, the answer is not
But I like the way you think!
The formula I’m going to give you combines three incredibly powerful creativity catalysts. So, make sure you get out your goggles and protective lab coat for this.
Time required: This exercise will take 10-15 minutes.
Here are your ingredients:
The starting point of any creative endeavour is a creative mindset. Your mindset is the environment in which your creative experiment takes place. Think of your mindset like a chemistry lab. You can’t test the vapour pressure of gas if it is baking hot inside the lab or if a gale is howling through the open...
It’s a Golden Rule. I love its universality and its simplicity. In our recent Insights Discovery workshop in India*, with delegates from a mixed bag of faiths and traditions, this rule stood its ground and resonated with everyone.
However, when it comes to communication, we need to take this rule a step further.
Improve on the Golden Rule!? I hear you gasp. Don’t worry. I’m not talking about changing the essence of the rule, just its application. Stay with me. Our different personality preferences cause us to want different things out of our interactions. People who are action-oriented, extroverted, and direct want you to speak up, cut the fluff and get to the point. People who are analytical, precise, and reserved would rather you send them an email with all the detail laid out in a logical manner.
So, the tweak to the rule is, “Do to others as they would have done to them.”
Celia and I have recently returned from an exciting and eye-opening trip to Hyderabad, India. We were invited by My Choices Foundation to deliver training to their team of 60 leaders as part of their 10-Year Anniversary celebrations. My Choices Foundation (MCF) is an NGO that aims to give women, children and families choices to live lives free from violence, abuse and exploitation.
We thought we were going to share our creative thinking, innovation and Insights Discovery learning with the leaders of MCF.
But we were wrong.
We were going to learn from them.
Here are three of the many lessons in creative thinking that we’ve learned over the past two weeks in India that you can apply to any problems you may be trying to solve.
(If you are wondering how My Choices Foundation (MCF) works and how we ended up in India, read...
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