Many things go out of fashion to be replaced by others. One day they are business imperatives, the next day they are gone and forgotten. Along with the buzzwords, awards, and puzzling fads we have seen develop and fizzle, one trend stands tall as valuable —the ability to create.
How valuable? Think innovation, think learning, Creative Think. All of those are the currency of modern times, what we call the conceptual age. Roger von Oech is one of my favorite creative thinkers - an amazing writer, storyteller, conversation facilitator, and cultured journeyman.
This year marks the quarter century milestone for his book: A Whack on the Side of the Head. Roger sent me a courtesy copy to read. I got so much out of it, that I decided to list 25 reasons why you need to have a whack on the side of the head yourself.
doesn't teach insight."
[Heraclitus - 25 centuries ago]
- The expectation that you will use creativity at work today has gone from 5% to 35%. See the rest of the interview Roger did with Guy Kawasaki at the Sun's place here.
- You can learn to use the mantra "look for the second right answer." Thinking that there is only one right answer precludes you from learning more, and creating something different.
- You can put yourself in the shoes of the idea, and walk around in it for a while. Do you want to change the configuration of your hard drive? What would you look like as the new configuration?
- When there is a limit to what you can do, you can do so much more. This seems counter-intuitive, but constraints have always been the creator's best friends.
- "Nothing succeeds like mediocrity because everybody understands it so well."
- While it's great to be in love, falling in love with ideas begets stagnation. If you're looking for a secret stimulant, go click on Roger's photograph up top and get your own Creative Whack.
- Randomness may fool us, but it's extremely good for innovation. Think 3M, think different.
- You can fool people most of the time, you can even fool yourself, but your brain is trained to recognize patterns. You can use that to your advantage.
- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation [Plato]. That is also true about your self.
- What you don't know will blindside you. When you soften your gaze and take in the whole context, you can see so much more.
- Ambiguity is part of life. When you learn to thrive in it, you can do wonders.
- It will give you a better jolt than an expensive designer cup of coffee and boost your spirit and confidence as a bonus.
- Because creativity is a competitive advantage - in any business, at any level, any time. Richard Branson did not follow the rules.
- You too can create a fun tagline that goes with a serious business. Some example gathered by Roger over the years: "In tuition we trust" from a major private university; "We've got you by the calls!" from a telephone company; "God people, good medicine, good luck" from a health insurance company; "A leader in technology whether the customer needs it or not" from a large computer company. Now go make up yours.
- Sacred cows do make the best burgers.
- You get to think about what you think life is made of. Forrest Gump thought it was a box of chocolates.
- Going form point A to point B is pointless if you have traveled that way many times before without looking at the landscape. The best paths to a destination are filled with interesting turns.
- You can be the explorer, the artist, the judge, and the warrior.
- Turning irritation into inspiration will make you better company.
- Books are intellectual popcorn with the least amount of calories.
- Firing the brain synapses can feel good even when we will not see any of them pack the box and leave the office.
- Opening mental locks and forgetting your assumptions is as valuable and restorative as taking a vacation - from those habits that are not creative.
- Sometimes delaying action (and reading instead) can give you more information. Those who have worked with me know I am fond of saying that with some things, no immediate action is a time saver - those projects end up being scuttled or completely transformed.
- Failure is a much better motivator than success. Where do you think proverbs such as "resting on your laurels" come from?
- You are creative.
Repeat after me: you are creative.