Sunday, December 21, 2008

The magic is in the field

Creativity is a matter of preparation and experience over genetically produced ideas. Creativity falls in the same category that Thomas Edison talked about when he said “Genius is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration”
90 percent of the creative process is done before you start to generate ideas. Many times the only part of the creative process anyone ever notices is the final product and they assume you just thought it up. Short and sweet, wham, you’re a genius. The reality is it takes hard work to be that creative genius.

If you were to draw a line on a piece of paper to visualize the creative process timeline, you would need to draw a long line not a short line. The first 90 percent is prep time and the last 10 percent is idea generation.

Gordon MacKenzie best illustrated this process with a story about dairy cows. “Imagine dairy cows in a field eating grass. It may not look like much, but that field is where the magic happens, turning grass into milk. Not until the cows get in the barn do you ever see the product, milk. You can’t continually milk the cows and expect to get the same quantity and quality of milk with each milking. That cow needs to spend 90 percent of their time in the field hanging around eating grass before they can deliver their milk.”

The creative person needs time in the field before they can make their magic happen. They must first fill their brains with information, have time to process that information then they can start generating creative ideas. This information gathering may come from years of experience or one meeting to review a creative brief. But it must happen.

So the next time you see a glass of milk, remember, the magic happened in the field not the barn.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So how much of the right brain do you use?

Being creative doesn’t only mean you know how to draw, act, dance or play an instrument. Being creative is a way of thinking, a way of problem-solving, it is a way of viewing the world. Creativity is something we are all born with. Over the years most of us have our creative abilities suppressed. We spend our youth developing the left side of our brain. That means we are only using half of our brain power. Somehow that has become acceptable and in most cases preferred. Just think how much more powerful our mental capacity would be if we developed our right brain skills as much as we do our left brain skills.

Determine which side of your brain is more dominate. You can also discover the role of left-brain/right-brain plays in your personality. Here is a link to test how much you use your right brain.

Check it out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Let's work together

The beauty of right brain thinking is when you are exposed to something, you don’t have to make sense of it right away. The right brain is just excited to be exposed to it and absorb the information without judgment. The Left brain has a desire to understand everything about that information before it is filed into the left hemisphere.

By the left brain’s desire to understand the information, there becomes some level of judgment assigned before the information is filed a way. This limits the ability to recall the information without byes’ to apply to different problems.

The right brain will file the information away just the way you were exposed to it. Later the right brain will retrieve the information to solve multiple problems. This allows you to utilize information stored in the right brain to view a problem from many different angles. The possibilities become enormous. All the ideas may not be good, but at least you have choices.

This is where the left brain comes in handy. The left brain will analyze the different solutions to help determine the best possible answer.

The biggest and best solutions are a result of the left and right brains working as a team. Each providing their expertise. When the right brain thinking is suppressed, then the left brain is left to it’s own devices and tries to rationalize it’s way to the only answer it knows. The right brain will push the concept to explore new and better possibilities.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Depth Perception, Problem Solving II

The left brain thinker will look at the problem and focus on verbal, logical and analytical type of thinking. They are very linear and place things in sequential order. This process tends to focus on a solution to a problem from one point of view, and that is the logical point of view.

The right brain thinker will look at the problem much differently. Their brain functions in a non-verbal, nonlinear, non-sequential manner and tends to be more visual, perceptual and intuitive. Their right brain can see the whole picture and determine the spatial relationships of all the possible solutions as they relate to the whole. In other words, this allows for multiple views of the problem.

The left brain thinker will work in a sequential manner looking for the right answer. While the right brain thinker will be more concerned with quickly looking for multiple answers and later determine which is best.

When it comes right down to it, to create depth perception in problem solving, whole-brain thinking is required. This allows each hemisphere of the brain to bring different points-of-view to the solution. Again, right brain thinking is also required to determine the best possible solution.

Depth Perception Problem Solving

To view a problem from only one perspective gives you a limited perspective of a solution. If you add depth perception to your problem solving skills, you will find your solutions will be much easier to grasp. That means you need to view the problem from different angels.

Try this experiment
1. Close both eyes
2. Have another person set a cup (non-breakable) within your reach
3. Now open only one eye. (keep the other close)
4. Reach for the cup. You have to feel your way around before you can find the cup
5. Now, close both eyes again
6. Have the cup place again within reach. (not in the same place)
7. Open both eyes
8. Reach for the cup. You now know exactly where the cup is to grab it

This experiment is much like problem solving. When the solution is only viewed from one perspective, you’re not really sure if you have the best possible solution. But if you look at the problem from multiple points of view, it is much easier to understand where the best possible solution resides.

When you solve a problem, don’t just take the facts and work your way to a solution. Challenge yourself and add multiple points of view to make sure you have the best possible solution.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Suppressed Creativity

Today if you were given a choice to be intellectually brilliant or creatively brilliant which would you chose? My guess is you would choose to be intellectually brilliant. The reason being is you have been taught your whole life that the more left brain intelligent you are the better you will do in school and in the working world. This belief suppresses our ability to absorb information and view the problem from different points of view. Creative solutions become suppressed.

From an early age we were told that we must find the one correct answer. Many of us learned to file information away (in our left side of our brain) so we can later retrieve that information with predictable results. That process limits our ability to reach beyond what we know; it limits our ability to except new ideas. We must allow our students and peers to experience using the right side of our brains. I’m not saying that math, sciences, and languages are not important, they are very important. What I am trying to point out is, tapping into the right side of our brain allows us to be comfortable with reaching beyond our expectations, reaching beyond that one right answer to achieve new and interesting ideas.

The left brain thinker is able to see a vertical process in their solutions. While the right brain thinker will view the problem from many different angles. It is this combination of thinking that deliver great ideas.

How impressive would it be for a company to team up left brain thinkers with a right brain thinkers? Just imagine the brilliant solutions they could come up. The right brain thinker would push the ideas to new and exciting possible solutions. The left brain person would keep the project on strategy and help develop the new concept to completion.

To make this possible, Right Brain thinking needs to be accepted as important as left brain thinking. If that were the case, I think many of us would enjoy being creatively brilliant.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Don’t be afraid of failure

When a child is faced with a problem and doesn’t know the answer, they will charge forward anyway because they don’t have the fear of failure.

Quick story: At Christmas time a small church had the children from their congregation perform the Naivety scene. Everything was going well until the three wisemen walked on stage. The first wiseman said, “I bring you gold”, the second said “I bring you myrrh”, the third said, “Frank sendth me.”

The reason for the story is to illustrate how kids handle problems. The third wiseman didn’t remember his line (the problem) but he was not afraid to take a chance and move forward (no fear of failure). He may have learned the fear of failure based on the reaction of others. But at the time, the child was not afraid to make a valiant effort.

We as professionals need to be concerned about getting it right. But when we are burdened with the fear to failure, we have a tendency to fall back on what we already know and not necessarily push ourselves to find the best possible solution.

Look at how many times Thomas Edison failed before he figured out the solution to his light bulb. What about Babe Ruth, or Reggie Jackson, they were not afraid to strike out, so they took their cuts to hit the ball out of the park. How about Michael Jordan, how many times did he miss shots in his lifetime, and he still wanted the ball in the clutch. The fear of failure can be crippling. The excitement of success is empowering.

We as creatives need to remove the fear of failure and replace it with the excitement of success. With enthusiasm and pride on our side, we will work through all the failures to achieve great success. If it were easy anyone could do it. It is those that reach out, not afraid to make mistakes, are the ones who will achieve the greatest of successes.

I can tell you from experience, you will achieve far more success than you ever dreamed if you remove the fear of failure and replace it with the excitement of success.

Give it a try.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't Look past the obvious

What I don’t get is this resume scanning software (word search).
If you don’t have the right words in your cover letter or resume the software deems you not qualified and kicks you out. What’s up with this nonsense. I understand the need to manage a mass number of resumes, but what about those hidden gems, those that will change the world. Many of them are creative thinkers, not detailed obsessive. Can you image if some of the great minds in history had to submit their resume to be scanned before they were allowed to do what they did best.

Can you imagine Alexander Graham Bell’s resume when he was trying to invent the Telephone.
Goal: To talk to someone that is not with me.
Employment: Self employed
Skills and Experience: I am driven by a unique curiosity in a variety of scientific activities involving kites, airplanes, tetrahedral structures, sheep-breeding, artificial respiration, desalinization and water distillation, and hydrofoils.
Based on this resume, I would say, smart guy that has no experience in talking to people. But if I have a job for a sheep breeder, he is my guy.

What about Abraham Lincoln?
Goal: To become President of the United States
Education: Educated myself by reading borrowed books by the light of the fire.
Employment: Worked splitting fence rails and clerking in a general store, and then as a country lawyer
Skills and Experience: Can read by the light of a fire. I’m a quick learner.
Given his resume, would you believed that he really was a country lawyer. Who would have elected him to the Illinois General Assembly, or a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He achieved all that plus became one of the greatest US presidents in history.

How about the Wright Brothers.
Goal: To fly like the birds.
Experience: Published a daily paper. Make and repair bicycles
Education: High School studies in Greek and trigonometry, plus studied from my home library.
Skills and Experience: Like to tinker with thinks such as Kits and Gliders.
Special interest. Building wind tunnels.
Would you have trusted these guys who repaired bikes and like to tinker, to find a way for man to fly like a bird. As history shows, they accomplished flight never owning a pilots licenses.

The morel of all this is, when judging people, look past the obvious to search for the gems. They are out there, but a word search tool can only element them, it can’t find them.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Orville Wright did not have a pilot’s license.

To be qualified is the price of entry. To overcome all the hurdles and speed bumps of a project with enthusiasm and passion is the only way to make the idea really soar.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


So you think creativity is random wild thinking. Not so. Creativity is a series of events and information brought to life in a meaninful and unique way.