Archive for the 'Creativity' Category

Dr. Seuss: Innovating within Constraints

Point: Use a constraint to convert complexity into simplicity

Story: In 1954, Life magazine published an article on illiteracy among schoolchildren, reporting that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. “Pallid primers” featuring girls and boys who were “uniform, bland, idealized and terribly literal,” its author, John Hersey, contended. Publisher William Spaulding of Houghton Mifflin wanted to change that. He approached his friend Theodore Geisel (later known as Dr. Seuss) to write a much more lively primer. But he gave Geisel a challenge: the book could only use a vocabulary of 225 words, so that beginning readers could read it. Geisel took up the challenge. The result? The Cat in the Hat. Dr. Seuss used clever combinations of the 225 words and fanciful illustrations to create a playful story.

Action: A constraint limits the creative choices you have. Instead of viewing the constraint as merely negative and frustrating, consider the positive side: you can ignore those choices. Strip your problem to its basic elements. Then generate unusual combinations of those bare building blocks to look for a creative solution. This technique can be used in marketing, product development and strategy.

For more: Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel by Judith Morgan, Neil Morgan, Neil Bowen Morgan

3 Comments »Creativity, How-to, Innovation, New Product Development, Strategy

Go for Practice, not Perfection

Point: Jump in and create, don’t worry about getting it right the first time

Story: My friend Joel wanted to write a novel. He took classes. He turned in assignments. But, he just inched along because he tried to perfect each piece. Then he heard about “National Novel Writing Month.” The goal: write a 175-page novel during the month of November. Sounds intimidating — 50,000 words — but it comes down to 1666 words a day.

My first reaction was, “but would the novel make sense?” Joel pointed out that the rationale was not to have a publisher-ready novel in a month. “The point is practice,” he said, “and to have much more material to work with than you’d have otherwise.”

To meet the fast pace of the challenge, Joel had to give up his inner critic and just crank out some writing every day. Now he’s got the draft of a novel. He’s got some gems, and he’s got material to refine.

This process applies to writing business plans, marketing collateral, sketching new product ideas and other daunting tasks.

Action: The first step is to set a goal with a deadline. Then commit to making some progress every day. Rolling up your sleeves and jumping into a task creates momentum. The result is something tangible that you can refine.

No Comments »Creativity, How-to, Innovation, Productivity

A Quick Way to Boost Your Creativity or Productivity

Point: Color affects performance

Story: The background color on your computer screen might influence your creativity or productivity, according to a recent study by the University of British Columbia. Researchers gave participants work tasks on a computer. The experimenters varied whether the tasks were presented against a blue, red or neutral background on the computer screen. The results:

People performing tasks that required attention to detail (like proofreading) did better when the computer background was red.

People performing tasks that required a creativity (like creating new products) did better when the computer background was blue.

Action: Set your computer background to red when you need to focus on details. Set the background to blue when you want to make creative connections.

Sources for more information:
New York Times article
Wired Science

12 Comments »Creativity, Productivity

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