Tag: Creativity (home)

Nobody can be exactly like me. Even I have trouble doing it

permalink source: Tallulah Bunkhead
tags: Originality, Creativity

Although this sentence begins with the word "because", it is false. This line from Shakespeare has delusions of grandeur. The whole point of this sentence is to make clear what the whole point of this sentence is.

permalink source: Douglas R Hofstadter
tags: Humor, Truth, Creativity

While crossing the US-Mexican border on his bicycle, the man was stopped by a guard who pointed to two sacks he had on his shoulders. "What's in the bags?" "Sand," said the cyclist. "If you don't mind sir, we'll just take a look at those." The cyclist did as he was told. The guards searched the bags but could find nothing but sand. He continued across the border. Next week the same thing happened. Again the guards demanded to see the two bags, which contained nothing but sand. This went on every week for six months until it stopped suddenly. Some time later one of the guards happened to meet the cyclist on the street. "Say, you sure drove us crazy. We knew you were smuggling something across the border. I promise I won't rat--I just gotta know: what were you smuggling?" "Bicycles."

permalink source: Unknown
tags: Humor, Paradigms, Perception, Creativity

Let it not be said that I have said nothing new. The arrangement of the material is new.

permalink source: Pascal
tags: Creativity

Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.

permalink source: Albert Szent-Gyorgi
tags: Vision, Creativity

Scientists at NASA had developed a gun whose purpose is to launch dead chickens at extreme velocities. No, this isn't the result of over-competitive engineers at the annual Goddard Chicken Toss (though that would be a perfectly understandable consequence.) The gun is used to shoot dead chickens at the windshields of airline jets, military jets, and the space shuttle, (while they are parked, that is) at that vehicle's maximum velocity it could be traveling while in "bird space." As such, it simulates the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl, and therefore determine if the windshields were designed strong enough. British engineers, upon hearing of the gun, were eager to test the gun out on the windshield of their new high speed trains. However, upon firing the gun, the engineers watched in shock as the chicken shattered the windshield, smashed through the control console, snapped the engineer's chair backrest in two, and embedded itself into the back of the cabin. (Luckily, the train was unmanned at the time :o) Horrified, the engineers sent NASA the results of the experiment, along with the design of the windshield, and asked the NASA scientists for any suggestions. NASA sent back a one-sentence response: "Thaw the chicken first."

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Wisdom, Creativity

If I were going to burglarize a place that had guard dogs, I'd do it during a thunderstorm and bring a vacuum cleaner.

permalink source: Gary Hintz
tags: Humor, Creativity

A woman at the post office one day sees a middle-aged, balding man standing at the counter, methodically placing "Love" stamps on bright pink envelopes with hearts all over them. Once they're all stamped, the man takes out a perfume bottle and sprays scent all over them. Her curiosity getting the better of her, she goes up to the man and asks him what he is doing. He says "I'm sending out 1,000 valentines signed, 'You know who'." "But why?" asks the woman. "It's my job. I'm a divorce lawyer," the man replies. Boy, you can't trust anything anymore, can you? Really--you can't trust anything anymore Internet email Government Friends Romantic relationships Yourself Is there anything worthy of trust today? Anything we can rely on?

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Humor, Creativity, Trust

During the heat of the space race in the 1960s, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) realised that astronauts would have to be able to record certain things while performing their duties and so it needed a writing utensil capable of writing in the zero gravity confines of its space capsules. Of course, a normal pen will not work since they are all gravity fed, but the design specification called for a pen to be used. After considerable research and development spanning over two years, the working zero-g Astronaut Pen was developed at a cost of approximately $1 million U.S. (in 1960's dollars !!). The initial production run was fifty pens. The Soviet Union, faced with the same problem, issued pencils.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Problems, Creativity

By the time the average person finishes college he or she will have taken over 2,600 tests, quizzes and exams. The 'right answer' approach becomes deeply ingrained in our thinking. This may be fine for some mathematical problems, where there is in fact only one right answer. The difficulty is that most of life isn't that way. Life is ambiguous; there are many right answers - all depending on what you are looking for. But when we think that there is only one right answer, we'll stop looking as soon as we find one.

permalink source: Roger von Oech, "A Whack On the Side Of The Head"
tags: Creativity

"It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto nonexistent blindingly obvious. The cry "I could have thought of that" is a very popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn't, and a very significant and revealing fact it is too."

permalink source: Douglas Adams
tags: Genius, Creativity

Have you ever imagined a world without hypothetical situations?

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Logic, Creativity

The strong young man at the construction site was bragging he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He made a special case of making fun of Morris, one of the older workmen. After several minutes, Morris had enough. "Why don't you put your money where your mouth is?" he said. "I will bet a week's wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that outbuilding that you won't be able to wheel back." "You're on, old man," the braggart replied. "It's a bet ! ....Let's see what you got." Morris reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to the young man, he said, "All right. Get in."

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Communication, Creativity

Idea Summit Rolf Smith has spent a career thinking about how people think. Now, he is helping people at some of the world's most powerful organizations to generate big ideas -- and to rethink their whole approach to creativity. by Anna Muoio photographs by Sam Jones from FC issue 31, page 150 "This is not a meeting. This is not a training session. This is not an exercise," declares Rolf Smith, who is standing before the Face 2005 Team -- 22 chemical engineers, biologists, and project leaders from Procter & Gamble Co. with a mandate to develop new products that will redefine the future of cosmetics. "This is an expedition. And there will be no whining. No sniveling. No excuses." If Smith, 59, speaks with military authority, that's because he spent 24 years in the U.S. Air Force. His military career has included working with the Electronic Security Command, becoming an expert in artificial intelligence, and launching the air force's first Office of Innovation. ( Indeed, by the time Smith retired from the air force in 1987, after declining an assignment at the Pentagon, he was known throughout the ranks as "Colonel Innovation." ) But Smith doesn't just talk the military talk. He walks the walk. His baggy, khaki-colored cargo pants are zero fashion and all function. The dozen pockets of his safari vest are filled with gear. As flute music from the Bolivian Andes plays in the background, Smith paces around a room that's cluttered with tents, backpacks, and climbing ropes. Outside, a narrow path stretches toward the Potomac River. The P&G people are puzzled -- and on edge. They are about to embark on a long, arduous, and potentially rewarding expedition. A Thinking Expedition. And Rolf Smith is their no-nonsense guide. "Please take off your watches," he instructs, "and place them in this basket." "Give up our watches?" a few mutter. "You've got to be kidding." He isn't kidding: "We will return them to you in five days." The genuinely exciting news about the new world of business is that there is more room for creativity than ever. Smaller and smaller groups of smart people can do bigger and bigger things. Just ask the people who developed the first Netscape browser when they were kids just out of college, or the pair of Stanford graduate students who started Yahoo! as a way to postpone writing their PhD dissertations. Now the sobering news: You're only as good as your last great idea. The half-life of any innovation is shorter than ever. People, teams, and companies are feeling the heat to think up new products, services, and business models. What's the reward for one round of successful innovation? Even greater pressure to revisit your success, and to unleash yet another round of innovation. That's precisely what these 22 P&G employees from Hunt Valley, Maryland are facing. They are part of P&G's high-stakes effort, dubbed Organization 2005, whose goal is to double the company's revenue ( to $70 billion ) by that year. Cathy Pagliaro, 34, an energetic associate director for P&G's cosmetics-product-development department and the woman responsible for launching this expedition, explains the challenge that her group faces: "Our CEO, Durk Jager, has declared that Organization 2005 is about three things: stretch, innovation, and speed. The challenge for our small group is to help make those words a reality. My department has a charter to do new and different things to help fulfill our revenue goal. But to do that, we can't think about things the way they've been thought about inside P&G for the past 162 years. The only way we can change is if we start to think differently. I don't know exactly where that will take us, but I do know that it looks different from where we are now." Rolf Smith's job is to help the team begin to think differently -- and to turn what can feel at times like a crushing burden into a thrilling ( if exhausting ) intellectual adventure. Through his Virtual Thinking Expedition Co., based in Estes Park, Colorado, Smith has guided teams from some of the country's largest organizations -- IBM, DuPont, Ford, AT&T -- on expeditions driven by the human desire for a sense of adventure in the pursuit of the next big thing. "Americans instinctively understand the concept of an expedition," says Smith. "The history of the world is built on one expedition after another. It is part of our makeup and our psyche." A Thinking Expedition combines creative problem solving with challenging outdoor experiential learning -- similar to an Outward Bound boot camp for the mind. "It's an accelerated unlearning process," Smith explains. "The days are intense, full, and demanding. There are no scheduled meals, no scheduled breaks. We deliberately design the expedition to push people out of their 'stupid zone' -- a place of mental and physical normalcy -- so that they can start to think differently, explore what they don't know, and discover answers to mission-critical problems." To really grasp the design of a Thinking Expedition, you first have to understand how Smith himself thinks about thinking and change. If you want different results from the creative process, he argues, you have to do things differently. Before you can do things differently, you have to think differently. To think differently, he adds, you first have to think about the way you think. The capacity to think about your thinking is what Smith calls a "third-order mind shift." It may sound like semantic gymnastics, but Smith believes it's a fundamental ingredient of creative breakthroughs. "Metacognition is the first step in the process of change," Smith argues. "But to take this step, individuals or organizations first have to overcome a major obstacle -- an overwhelming fear of thinking." If you listen carefully to Smith's ideas about how companies can prosper in this change-or-die environment, you realize that he almost never summons the two words that are used incessantly by every other guru in his field: "creativity" and "innovation." "Among businesspeople, I've discovered that the word 'creativity' can derail a conversation in one second flat," he says. "It's too touchy-feely. It isn't about results. In the air force, I learned that the word 'innovation' scares people. It implies too dramatic a change -- the kind of change that threatens to leave people behind." So Smith developed a different way of thinking ( and talking ) about the nature of change and the process of unleashing new ideas. He explained those ideas in a book, "The 7 Levels of Change" ( Summit Publishing Group, 1997 ). The book's central proposition is deceptively simple. Although not all change is the same, there is one common element -- thinking. When you break down the process of thinking into a manageable number of steps, you reduce the perceived risks associated with change. These seven levels of thinking, Smith is quick to stress, require seven corresponding levels of action. "Being creative is when you think about your thinking," Smith says. "Being innovative is when you act on your ideas." Level One is effectiveness -- doing the right things. Level Two is efficiency -- doing things right. Level Three is improving -- doing the right things better. Level Four is cutting -- doing away with things. Level Five is copying -- doing things other people are doing. Level Six is different -- doing things no one else is doing. And Level Seven is impossible -- doing things that can't be done. Smith's goal for every Thinking Expedition is to move a team along this continuum. Smith has incorporated another crucial piece of his worldview into Thinking Expeditions. Breakthrough ideas, he believes, come from the edge -- that uncomfortable point at which levels of stress, tension, and exhaustion are pushed beyond the comfort zone. "People are more creative when they're on the edge," explains Smith, who often works with teams well into the early-morning hours, guiding them into new creative territory. "People like to complain that they don't think well when they're tired or hungry. I take those people aside and tell them, 'That's the whole point. We don't want you to think well. We want you to think differently!' " Don't Clean Up This Mess! "You are not who you were yesterday," Smith tells the members of the P&G team, who are now outfitted in safari vests with the logo "Think expedition" stitched across the front pocket. The first day of the expedition, which ended at 11:30 PM, is now behind them. They have been briefed on the mission, the ground rules, and their roles. The main objective, Smith insists, is not to solve the specific product-development challenges that the team faces -- no one is going to invent a new mascara or face cream in the next five days. Rather, it is to define and refine the challenge itself -- or, as Smith likes to call it, "the mess" that the team faces as it tries to invent new products. Quoting Albert Einstein, Smith says, "The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution." Even though it's early in the morning, and breakfast hasn't yet been served, this statement perks some people up. "Most people are convinced that they already have the solution to every problem," says Smith. But invariably, he tells the group, after a few days on an expedition, the nature and depth of everyone's understanding of the so-called mess change significantly. Smith and the P&G team began working on the mess long before they arrived here. Each participant had filled out an Expedition Visa, a detailed questionnaire with open-ended and fill-in-the-blank questions. The visa serves two functions. First, it gives Smith a richer understanding of the creative challenge from the perspective of the entire group, as opposed to how his initial contacts at the company see things. Smith and his team leaders then use those insights to design the overall flow, timing, and route of the expedition. They read each visa like detectives reading clues, gaining deeper insight into how each person thinks. "By the time the team walks through the door, we know enough to bond with people very quickly," he says. "The secret to guiding is to establish trust -- fast. From there, you have to learn how to read the group in terms of all the different personalities, types, and styles that members bring with them." No one needs a visa to read Jeff Leppla, 37, the idea man behind a breakthrough technology for one of P&G's innovative ( and still highly secret ) beauty-care products. Leppla has enough energy to power a locomotive -- and to run his own horse-breeding and -racing operation in Lexington, Kentucky on the side. His enthusiasm is infectious. At dinner the night before, he rallied the people at his table like an indefatigable football coach. Referring to Smith, Leppla boasted, "Guys, we're going to break this dude in!" But even he recognizes the scale of the mess that he and his colleagues face. "There has to be a crisis to push us to take a risk. But often we lack a sense of urgency. And in a company as big as ours, urgency can be a difficult thing to feel." Indeed, generating a sense of urgency is one of the main design principles behind Thinking Expeditions. That's why Smith had advised Cathy Pagliaro to begin creating -- through a flurry of cryptic emails to her team -- a sense of mystery and anticipation weeks before the expedition. "I didn't tell anyone what we were doing, where we were going, or what to expect," she admits. "All I told them was to block off several days to go off-site. It was a huge risk to keep people in the dark. A lot of them couldn't handle not knowing. But you want to nudge people out of their comfort zone, because that's when real growth happens." She then adds, with obvious satisfaction, "I sure pissed off a lot of people!" Smith plays his part like a master puppeteer. From the moment you walk into his staging room, you are imprinted with a sense of both urgency and difference. Contact with work or home is not prohibited, but it's strongly discouraged. Days run far into the night, and nights run into the early morning. And throughout the expedition, Smith and his team rely on an ongoing stream of multimedia props to spark and energize the flow and ideation -- and to maintain the feel of a real expedition. For instance, film clips from "Mountains of the Moon," about Captain Sir Richard Burton's search for the source of the Nile in the 1850s, are used to show the orchestration of expeditions -- how teams are formed and how they prepare for the leap into the mapless unknown. The scene from the movie Apollo 13 in which panicked scientists avert disaster by making a lifesaving fix from whatever is on hand is shown to illustrate Smith's Level Seven, doing-the-impossible thinking. Slides, photographs, and music -- from Mozart to the Gypsy Kings -- are used to shift mood and thinking direction. And then there is the staple of any Thinking Expedition: blue slips -- Smith's tried-and-true tool for capturing ideas. A blue slip is a piece of light-blue paper measuring two and three-quarter inches by four and one-quarter inches ( deliberately not three by five ) that expeditioners carry with them at all times. Smith is adamant, almost to the point of obsession, that a fresh supply of blue slips always be on hand. The key to capturing an idea, he stresses, is to write it down: "Ideas can come from anywhere and at any time. The problem with making mental notes is that the ink fades very rapidly." To hammer this point home, Smith cues one of his trusty visual clips -- an old advertisement for Canon copiers that conveniently asks, "Where is a thought if it isn't written down?" In fact, Smith believes that in both work and life, the only things that get done are those that get written down. So the hundreds of blue-slip ideas that the Face 2005 Team will generate over its five days are gathered to create the "Trail Ahead Travel Log." The log is divided into sections that list the team's discoveries, results, vision, and concepts of operations, as well as what to do to keep the sense of the expedition alive when people return to P&G. "I wanted to make sure that we not only had a different experience but also discovered and created a tangible output," says Pagliaro. Smith also knows that it takes smart, thought-provoking questions to inspire the kind of thinking that generates breakthrough ideas. So a slide appears on the screen at the front of the room: "The average child asks 125 probing questions a day. The average adult asks a mere 6." So during an expedition, Smith asks a lot of questions. Some are focused on specific problems; others are intentionally vague, open-ended -- and even, on the surface, a bit silly. One of his favorites: "What's a thought that you've never thought before?" Smith recalls that during one of the first Thinking Expeditions that he led -- this one for Exxon Corp. in 1994 -- one of his obtuse questions ended up saving the company millions of dollars. A team of engineers assembled to focus on several of Exxon's offshore oil-production sites. "Most engineers live in a world where projects are done efficiently, effectively, and with slight improvements," says Smith. But he had a different agenda. "Several sites were in the ice, in the middle of nowhere. At that time, building roads to the sites would cost roughly $1 million a mile. I wanted to push those engineers into a higher level of thinking. We asked team members to think of a completely crazy idea -- something that they believed couldn't be done or wouldn't work. You know, one of those stupid ideas." One engineer came up with a stupid idea with radical implications. "Let's stop building roads to the sites altogether!" he declared. It was a complete mind shift for the team. After elaborating on the idea, the group discovered a more innovative ( and cost-effective ) way of reaching offshore locations -- a "stupid" idea that had the potential to save Exxon $50 million per production site. Thinking about Thinking Rolf Smith has spent virtually his entire career thinking about thinking. Back in 1963, at age 23, he left his job as a physics teacher at a boys' Catholic high school to join the U.S. Air Force. After a stint as a computer-communications officer at Strategic Air Command headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, he was dispatched to complete his master's degree in computer science at Texas A&M University. That's where Smith first became interested in doing things that couldn't be done -- and operating in the realm of seventh-level thinking. For instance, he became hell-bent on doing his master's thesis on artificial intelligence. Specifically, he wanted to program a computer to play chess. But he had a hard time finding support for his project. "The professors told me that there was no one at A&M who knew anything about artificial intelligence, so I wouldn't have an adviser. Then they told me that I shouldn't waste my time -- that computers couldn't think." Eventually, the head of the department, an avid chess player himself, decided to humor Smith. He agreed to be his adviser on the grounds that Smith would create a chess program to give him some stiff competition. "Dr. Wortham began playing against the computer one day at 6 AM," says Smith. "It beat him soundly. And I got to finish my project." Smith's chess-inspired interest in pattern recognition and in analyzing the tactical and strategic implications of positions had wide ( and obvious ) applications in his work in the air force -- and also, he later realized, in his work on thinking in business. But it was not until 1984 that Smith, then a lieutenant colonel and director of long-range planning for the Electronic Security Command ( now called the Air Force Intelligence Command ), consciously began focusing on the process of innovation. And it was at this point that the air force's chief of staff made a bold request: Make the air force more innovative. "No one thought we could do it," says Smith. "A lot of people said that there's no way you can teach people to be creative and innovative. They're either born with it, or they're not." But with a letter from his boss, Brigadier General Grover Jackson, authorizing him to go anywhere in the world and to do whatever it takes to "make innovation happen," Smith created the U.S. Air Force's first Office of Innovation. Its purpose? To spread innovative thinking and practices around the world -- in places like the Strategic Air Command, the Space Command, and U.S. Air Force operations in Europe -- and to create a global network of innovation centers in the field. "Our group had license to jump the chain of command to get things done. We were on a fast track for bold ideas." The impact was immediate -- and huge. Smith and his team received, on average, 600 ideas per year from 13,000 enlisted men and women "in the trenches" worldwide. But it was one young airman on the Kelly Air Force Base, in San Antonio, who taught Smith the most important lesson in cultivating an environment in which breakthrough ideas actually are allowed to break through. The first creation of Smith's office was something called Form Zero ( bucking an air-force rule that all forms had to be numbered beginning with the number one ). Anyone in the force could use Form Zero to submit an idea. One day, Smith received a form from this airman: "Put speed bumps in front of the barracks," it said. "I'm on night shift and have to sleep during the day. I can't get any sleep because people speed down the street in their cars." Though admittedly this was not a breakthrough idea, it was a reasonable request, so Smith's office worked with the airman to implement a solution. A few months later, the same airman sent in another form: "There's only one pay phone in the hallway of my barrack. Every time I talk to my girlfriend, everybody stands in the hall, listens, and laughs. Let's get a phone booth outside the barracks." Again, Smith's team worked with the airman to come up with a solution. Like clockwork, a few months later, they got yet another idea from the guy. "But the third time around," Smith says, "it was one of the biggest operational ideas we ever got. It absolutely blew us away. It solved a problem that I can't talk about -- but that the air force had been working on for a long, long time." The lesson? "If you show that you truly pay attention to ideas -- even the small, seemingly insignificant ones -- then you'll create an environment in which people feel comfortable generating and offering them." The Long Climb to Creativity The day is hot, humid, and overcast -- the kind of day that frizzes hair and dampens spirits. Everyone hopes for rain. Some hope that it will bring relief from the heat; others pray that it will postpone the day's agenda -- rock climbing. Harnessed, helmeted, and with all the appropriate legal waivers signed, the Face 2005 Team starts hiking down a narrow path in Virginia's Great Falls Park toward the Potomac River -- and toward a sheer rock face at the water's edge. Admittedly, the P&G crowd looks more like the grown-up cast from "The Bad News Bears" than like a team of scientists on a serious expedition. It turns out that climbing is also an integral part of Thinking Expeditions. Mike Donahue, 53, founder of the Colorado Mountain School, introduced Smith to the power of climbing in 1991: He guided Smith, along with Smith's family and partners, up Longs Peak, a 14,255-foot mountain in Colorado. Since then, Donahue and Smith have been guide partners. They complement each other perfectly. Donahue is tall and trim, with a face that looks like it's been weathered from the outdoors. Where Smith quotes Einstein, Tom Peters, and Margaret Wheatley, Donahue prefers to emphasize his points with more personal references or ancient quotes. He's particularly fond of one Himalayan saying: "When the explorer is ready, the guide will appear." For Donahue, the power of climbing is that it's a perfect metaphor for work and life. "Climbing is an ongoing process of making decisions and moving forward," he says. "One of the easiest ways to change is simply to alter your position -- to focus on the one-inch square in front of you and put one foot in front of the other. But to go forward -- on a cliff, on a project, or in your career -- you sometimes first have to take a step sideways, or even a step back." It's dark as the Face 2005 Team hikes back up the steep trail after hours of climbing. But everyone's elation is palpable. Some made it to the top of the cliff, others did not, and some fell off trying ( luckily, everyone was protected by safety ropes ). Still, everyone is pumped. Over a dinner that lasts well past midnight, Donahue and Smith are quick to capitalize on that energy, and they push team members to express what they learned from the experience. Despite groans from a blue-slip-fatigued group, Smith prompts the usual flurry with his pointed questions. One woman shares her insight: "We're conditioned to think that small steps aren't good enough. But I realize that small steps are just what you need to get to the top." But getting to the top is just the first of two main objectives in climbing; the descent is equally important -- in real climbs as well as during a Thinking Expedition. It's also just as challenging. "It's just as far getting down a mountain as it is going up," Donahue says. On an expedition, the "long trek home," as the descent is called, represents the work required to turn the big ideas that were generated at the summit into pragmatic action items that can be implemented when the team returns. "On an expedition, the driving force is the summit," Smith explains. "Once it's reached, the focus then becomes getting back down. But this direction reversal is one of the most dangerous points of the expedition." It's during this leg of the adventure that Level Seven hypoxia ( when the body's tissues are deficient of oxygen ), as Smith calls it, can set in. Team members are tired, they want to get home, and worse, they stop thinking. The danger is that they return to their organization with the "high" of climbing but without the "how" of getting things done differently. The Face 2005 Team experienced several breakthroughs ( and breakdowns ) during its Thinking Expedition -- not to mention a 2 AM trip to the emergency room. Tia Steele, 50, a research psychologist at P&G, reached a personal "summit" that literally pushed her over the edge. Soon after her successful climbing experience ( which she had once vowed that she never would do ), she felt that she could tackle anything -- including the rope swing that hung from a tall tree in the field next to the Catoctin Inn, in Buckeystown, Maryland. Steele gave new meaning to Smith's expression "fall off trying" ( as a means to demonstrate that you can learn from your failures ), as she swung out high on the rope but did not have the strength at 2 AM to hold on. Early the next morning, as the rest of the team was gathering for another day's adventure, Steele was sitting at her table with both rope-burned hands tightly bandaged -- but with an enormous smile on her face. Steele's accident, like climbing, was an apt metaphor for the idea-generation process. Smith looks at his role this way: The guide is connected to each person on the expedition by an invisible rope. His job is to keep the right amount of tension on those ropes, so that everyone is right on the edge of stress. But guiding is a delicate business. "Sometimes," he says, "we'll pull the group a little too hard, and we'll have to go in and fix things." And sometimes those ropes snap. At 11 PM on day two, the invisible rope connecting the Face 2005 Team did just that. It was late. People were grumpy. And Smith was orchestrating yet another think-fest, placing individuals at tables for an exercise. Participants at each table had to come up with a list of their strengths, and they had to determine which skills the group as a whole lacked, those that might be needed when implementing product ideas later on. That's when the "troublemakers," as they came to be called, started flying high. This team insisted that it lacked no skills. Team members listed everything from technical savvy, to packaging design, to project priority setting, even to psychic abilities. But their confidence was starting to disturb some of the others -- and finally long-buried tensions exploded. There was crying, pouting, yelling, finger pointing, and even some door slamming. "Our team truly felt that it could dream up and make anything happen," explains Jeff Leppla, one of P&G's project leaders and also a hair-on-fire troublemaker. "And if we didn't know how to do something ourselves, we knew others who could help us. We could get funding, write business plans, conduct market research, and come up with product, packaging, and process design. All we needed was a lawyer. But I realized that our confidence provoked an enormous defensiveness from the rest of the group. I see now that we must have come across as a bunch of know-it-alls." It was a major blowout that served as a perfect lesson -- one that Smith could not have planned better himself. In fact, it granted department head Cathy Pagliaro one of her biggest take-aways. "The 'troublemakers' had no idea how they were being perceived," she says. "And the rest of the group was pissed off because they felt unvalued, cut off, and unappreciated. This stuff happens all the time in the real world of work. For me, there was no clearer way to demonstrate the power of differences among teams. And once you understand that power, you can leverage it when forming teams or tackling a problem. When you experience it as we did, it drives the lesson home as no lecture ever could." Anna Muoio ( amuoio@fastcompany.com ) is a Fast Company associate editor. Contact Rolf Smith ( thinking@onramp.net ) or Mike Donahue ( summits@earthnet.net ) by email. Learn more about the Virtual Thinking Expedition Co. on the Web ( http://www.thinking-expedition.com ). Sidebar: Monday-Morning Creativity For some fire-in-the-belly change agents, returning to the daily grind of work after the thrills of a Thinking Expedition can be too much to bear. "We lose some people during reentry," concedes Rolf Smith. "They want to change everything right away." Smith calls this impulse the "shiny-bead syndrome." Here are his cures. To move 'em, "ootch" 'em. Real change does not happen fast. Smith advises "ootching" people by starting small. "It's important to help people pinpoint how they could perform one low-level function better," he says. "Then they'll say, 'That's neat. What else can you do?' " Meetings matter. Running a good meeting is a skill that few businesspeople have mastered. But in the real world, most ideas get hatched at meetings. Smith has perfected the art of the five-minute meeting. He believes that the crux of a meeting can be boiled down to five basic questions: What's the most interesting idea or subject in front of us? What are the most crucial issues facing us? What are the most pressing challenges you, as an individual, face? What opportunities do these ideas, issues, and challenges present? What actions can we take now? The guide passes out blue slips, asks one question at a time, and allows 45 seconds for a response. Talk less, listen more. "Sometimes it's hard to get people to listen to one another, especially when they feel that the person talking is terminally stupid," says Smith. How can you listen better? Play a game. Smith pairs people up to play a game called "Do You Mean?" It goes like this: One person says something. The person who's listening rephrases that statement by asking, "Do you mean ... ?" The other person then responds with a simple yes or no. As the listener, you win the game by listening to a statement and accurately rephrasing it three different ways.

permalink source: Fast Company Magazine, January-Feburary 2000 page 150
tags: Leadership, Creativity, Organization

"He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator."

permalink source: Francis Bacon
tags: Problems, Change, Creativity

SPEAKING OF PASTORS... Ten pastors and ten youth pastors are going to a meeting by train. The ten pastors each have their own ticket, but the ten youth pastors (who have little money, of course) have one ticket between them. The pastors ask the youth pastors (in a caring manner), "How are you going to manage with only one ticket?" "Just watch," reply the youth pastors. They all get on the train and the 10 pastors take their seats and hand their tickets to the conductor. But the youth pastors all pile into a bathroom, and when the conductor comes by, a single arm reaches out and gives him the ticket. The pastors, feeling enlightened, decide to try the same thing on the way home, so they purchase just one ticket between the ten of them. The youth pastors buy NO ticket at all. "How are you going to get home?" ask the pastors. "Just watch," the youth pastors reply. When they get on the train, all the pastors pile into a bathroom. Nine youth pastors get into another bathroom. The tenth youth pastor then knocks on the pastors' bathroom door and says, "Ticket please." Out comes a single arm to hand over the ticket. The moral of the story: Don't use a technique unless you thoroughly understand the principle.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Problems, Solutions, Creativity

When the Montgolfier brothers flew the first hot air balloon, word of this exciting event reached the king in Paris, who could immediately see the military potential. So he called for his chief scientific officer, M. Charles, and commanded him to produce a balloon. This considerable scientist racked his brains: "how could they have flown this contraption?" After a while he jumped up with the French equivalent of "Eureka." "They must be using this new gas called hydrogen, which is lighter than air!" he declared. So he proceeded to invent the hydrogen balloon, which is a totally different type of balloon.

permalink source: Edward DeBono, Serious Creativity, p 43
tags: Paradigms, Creativity

There are teachers and then there are teachers. According to a radio report, a middle school in Oregon was faced with a unique problem. A number of girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the restroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick, they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints. Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all of the girls to the restroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night. To demonstrate how difficult it was to clean the mirrors, she then asked the maintenance guy to clean one of the mirrors. He took a long handled squeegee, dipped it into the toilet and then cleaned the mirror. Since then there have been no lip prints on the mirrors.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Communication, Creativity

Some years ago, a new pastor was called to a spiritually dead church in a small Oklahoma town. The pastor spent the first week calling on as many members as possible, inviting them to the first Sunday service. But the effort failed. In spite of many calls, not a single member showed up for worship! So the pastor placed a notice in the local paper stating that since the church was dead, the pastor was going to give it a decent, Christian burial. The funeral for the church would be held at 2 p.m. on the following Sunday. Morbidly curious, the whole town turned out for the "funeral." In front of the pulpit, there was a large casket, smothered in flowers. After the eulogy was given, the pastor invited the congregation to come forward and pay their respects to the dead church. The long line of mourners filed by. Each one peered curiously into the open casket, and then quickly turned away with a guilty, sheepish look. For inside the casket, tilted at just the right angle was a large mirror. Each one saw his own reflection in the mirror as perhaps never before! That is still what happens when human beings allow the living Christ to confront them in their sinful brokenness. This special day calls us to make a choice to receive God's Christ, and to let our lives be made whole again by the power of God. As you begin this Holy Week, can you truly say in your heart, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" The choice is up to you!

permalink source: Robert A. Beringer, Turning Points, CSS Publishing Company, 1995.
tags: Church, Creativity, Apathy

Consider Shamgar (Judges 3.31) Use what you have Start where you are Do what you can It will be enough

permalink source: Mark Miller (Chick-Fil-A dude)
tags: Leadership, Creativity, Initiative

Einstein said, "I never discovered anything with my rational mind." He once described how he discovered the principle of relativity by imagining himself traveling on a light beam. Yet, he could take brilliant intuitions and convert them into succint, rationally testable propositions.

permalink source: Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline p 169
tags: Logic, Creativity, Intuition

Smart Pills As most young, weak and smart kids are, Ken was picked on constantly by the bullies in school. They stole his lunch, they beat him up and just downright made his life miserable. It took him a couple of weeks to find a way to get back at these bullies and when he found out what would get them back, he went all out. He was on the bus where he normally gets his lunch stolen when he brought out a bottle that had what looked like small brown balls in it. He then, making sure no one was looking, secretly took from his pocket some milk duds and started popping them in his mouth, as obvious to the rest of the kids as possible, making yum yum noises. The bully, without asking, snatched the jar from Ken's hand and asked, "What's in the bottle that you are making such a big deal of?" "Well, they're smart pills." "Smart pills?" the bully asked, then opened the jar and popped a couple of the foreign brown balls in his mouth. "Pweeuuweppblahhh!!" he reacted. "What is this stuff? It tastes like rabbit turds!!" "See, you're getting smarter already."

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Conflict, Creativity

========================================================= Creative Problem Solving By Mary Alyce Burkhart, Ph.D. and Kevin L. Polk, Ph.D. Copyright 2000, All Rights Reserved Introduction We start everyone off with problem solving because it is the most familiar ground for you to cover. It is also one of the things you are most conscious of doing from day to day. You may call the process "decision making." While decision making is part of problem solving, it is actually step four in the process. That is the reason why many people have trouble with problem solving; they tend to skip over the first three steps, then they forget to include part of step five. So one of the first things to learn is to stop calling it "decision making" and start calling it "problem solving." The decision is made in step four. As you can see, creative problem solving involves five steps. The reason we know that is because two psychologists, Goldfried and Davidson, studied good problem solvers back in the 1970s. They studied people who had great problem solving track records. These people used the following five steps to tackle problems. I have simplified the language and (hopefully) made the steps a bit more fun to read about. Step 1, Attitude: Goldfried and Davidson called this "Problem Solving Orientation." It's the realization that life is just a series of problems to be solved. You might as well just roll up your sleeves and get to work solving them. I call it having a good attitude. This one may be obvious to you, but it's one of those obvious things you will tend to forget about when you have a problem in front of you. If you have a poor attitude, the chances of coming up with a successful solution for the problem is pretty slim. The absolute worst attitude is summed up in the phrase: "I can't do that." At that point all problem-solving stops. If you think you can't solve a problem, you can't. At least there is not much point in going through the rest of the steps with that attitude. Remember; start with "I can do this." There is a universe of difference between can and can't. Don't make light of that difference. Of course there are many other thoughts that can lead to a poor problem-solving attitude. Not as bad as "can't," but enough to mess up the process. So here is a list of some negative thoughts that you might use, or you might hear other people using when going into problem solving. You need to catch these thoughts and change them before you go to step two in the process. - This is too hard. - I know other people have done this, but it's much harder for me. -If only I had more (time, money, help, talent, name your excuse), I might be able to solve this. - Why does this always happen to me? - The world is out to get me. I'm the only one with this problem. - This is an emergency! I don't have time to think about this! So let‚s take a look at those thoughts and see how we might change them into ones that will create a better problem-solving attitude. "This is too hard." This statement is very close to "I can't." The better way to think is, "I really don't know how difficult this problem is to solve.?" Why? Because we all have had what seemed to be huge problems that were solved with some minor changes. Then there were the problems that seemed simple and ended up being very difficult to solve. The great thing about creative problem solving is that you just might think up a simple solution to what seemed to be a difficult problem. So enter into every problem solving opportunity with an open mind. You don't ever really know how hard or simple a problem is going to be. "I know other people have done this, but it's much harder for me." This statement is close to the first, but it adds that element that you are somehow less adequate to solve the problem than others are. If you think you are less adequate, chances are you will be less adequate. There is no need to enter into problem solving with this thought. It stifles your creativity. "If only I had more (time, money, help, talent, name your excuse) I might be able to solve this." This is an excuse for not doing anything. This one is straight out of the procrastinator's handbook. This thought allows you to wait around for some good fortune to come your way before you start to work. Time, money and help may or may not be part of what you need to solve a problem. If you need them, then that's another problem to be solved. "The world is out to get me. I'm the only one with this problem." The world is not out to get you or anyone else. If you take problems personally, you end up feeling sad and angry. Neither is going to help you solve problems. In every life there are thousands of problems to be solved. Everyone has thousands, everyone. "This is an emergency! I don't have time to think about this!" Believe it or not, this is the one I hear the most. I call it being in "emergency mode." That means you don't have to think much. You just make a gut decision and go with it. Never mind about the long-term consequences, just make the decision! The fact is that 99.9% of life is NOT an emergency. You have time to think. Your brain, however, does not want to take time to think. It knows that it is a supercomputer and it wants to act like one. For some parts of your life this is a good thing. You don't want to be taking time to consider every little move you make during a day. You would never get much of anything done. There are a many things that do require you to slow down and think. You know what they are because you really don't have the answers to them. You just take stabs at solutions and hope for the best. So when you catch yourself saying, "This is an emergency.," slow down. Ask yourself, "Is someone going to die or get really sick if I don't make the decision fast?" If the answer is "No," then chances are you have time to think. There may be dozens of thoughts you can have that get in the way of problem solving. You will know when you are having them by how you feel about the problem. If you are motivated to take it on, then your thoughts are probably fine. If you feel sad, mad or frightened of the problem, check out the thoughts you are having about it. Find the negative thoughts and make them into positive ones. There is just no replacement for a good attitude when it comes to creative problem solving. So get one! Step 2 - Defining/Describing the Problem When we talk about a problem we talk about six things. As a matter of fact, these are the only six things humans talk about. When it comes to creative problem solving you want to make sure you have answered some questions about these six things before you start coming up with solutions. The six things are: Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why (called 5 Ws and an H). I know you have seen these questions since the third grade. You use each of these words at least a hundred times a day. Now you want to carefully apply them to solving your problems. You do that by deliberately slowing down your thinking and asking yourself at least the following six questions about your problem: 1. What is the problem? 2. Who owns the problem? 3. Where does the problem happen? 4. When does it happen? 5. How does it happen? 6. Why does it happen? There are thousands of other questions you can ask about a problem that include the five W's and an H. These are just ones to get you started. You don't have to ask thousands of questions. Just ask enough so that you develop a clear picture of the problem you are dealing with. Note: If you are solving a problem with a group, then you want to keep asking questions until everyone in the group has a good picture of it. This is exactly the place where you can get the group "buy in" you hear so much about. If everyone has had their chance to describe how they see a problem, and they know the other members of the group have heard them, then chances are they will "buy in" to the solution. The mistake people make by themselves and in groups is skipping over this process. They "think" they know what the problem is and go on from there. In reality you can probably never know a problem completely. That does not mean you want to get stuck at Step 2 forever, it just means you want to take plenty of time to get a clear picture of the problem by defining and describing it. Let's get back to the list of questions and take a look at some possible pitfalls in each one. What is the problem? The most common mistake is saying that a problem is a person instead of saying it is the behavior of a person. So instead of saying, "Bill, you're a problem," say, "Bill, your behavior is a problem." Once you say that you can measure the problem. Measure you say? Yes, in order to know the "what" of a problem you need to be able to measure it. This is where "How" questions are used. For example, "How short or long is it?" "How much does it weigh?" "How many." You see, you can't measure "Bill." You can measure how many widgets he makes in an hour, how fast he types and how many phone calls he makes. You can even measure how friendly he is. The point is that you want to state "what" a problem is in terms that you can measure. This will make Step 5 in the process a lot easier. Who owns the problem? You want to ask this question to make sure you are not trying to solve someone else's problem for them. Other people's problems seem a lot easier to take on. That's because you don't have the emotional commitment to the problem. You also don't have to suffer the consequences if the solution does not work. You will discover, however, that other people's problems are infinitely hard to solve. You can't define the problem because you don't know it well. The only exception to this is when someone asks for your help. If they do, take them through these problem-solving steps. Otherwise, solve problems that pertain to you. Where is the problem? The pitfall here is that people just forget to ask the question. Where refers to a place. In the case of those Mars probes that keep disappearing, the problem is on Mars. That's a tough place to have a problem. Fortunately most of your problems will be here on earth. Does the problem happen at work? At home? In the car? Sometimes where a problem occurs is very important. Always ask the question just in case it is. When is it a problem? Again, the most common mistake is forgetting to ask the question. Is it only in the morning, afternoon, evening? Maybe it happens only when others are present. Every problem occurs in a context of the things around it at the time that it happens. Figure out all that is happening at that time. How is it a problem? I like to think of "How To" books when I think of this question. They are laid out in steps that you do one after another. Problems occur the same way. First this happens, then that happens, then the next thing happens. The pitfall is that we often think of a problem as the final step in the process. In reality the problem may be at one of the steps along the path to the problem. Make sure you describe the steps of a problem to get a good picture of it. Why is it a problem? I like to call this the "Philosophy" question. That is because you can go really deep with a "why" question. For example, "Why are we here on earth?" When it comes right down to it, a problem is a problem because someone thinks it's a problem. What's a problem for me may be no problem to you. Sometimes a problem is just not a problem if you look at it differently. This sort of goes back to Step 1 and your attitude about a problem. Through defining the problem you may change the way you see things. The problem may just go away. Don't make light of this, I have seen it happen hundreds of times! Step 3 - Generating Solutions (a.k.a. Brainstorming, Thinking Outside the Box) This is where you will truly put the "creative" in Creative Problem Solving. This is also where people often jump in to the NON-creative problem solving process. They don't think about their attitude, they barely describe the problem, then they come up with a solution. You will notice this step is called Generating Solutions (emphasis on that plural "s"). This is the point that you want to pull out all the stops and just think of every possible thing you might do to solve the problem you have defined. If you get stuck set the problem aside awhile and get back to it later. If you are still stuck, go back and check your attitude, then describe the problem some more. Then do more generating of solutions. Literally write down every idea you have. If you can't write fast enough, then tape-record them. Just let the solutions fly! Notice there is no mention of evaluating the solutions. That is because you don't want to evaluate at this point. Have fun and say any crazy solution that comes into your head. The more far out the better. Laugh and have fun with it. Also come up with more serious solutions. Don't label them as wacky or serious though, just say them and record them. There are more things you can do to get creative in this process. One is simply to change rooms. Yes, change rooms or go outside! This will cause you to see the world differently. It may even cause you to redefine the problem. (That's okay because you can always go back and do more defining.) How about go out and exercise, then generate some more solutions. You will change the state of your body, so maybe you will see things differently when you come back. You see there are hundreds of things you can do to jump-start your creativity and generate more solutions. Don't limit yourself. Above all remember the two primary rules for generating solutions: 1) Record every solution you (or the group) thinks of. Don't ever let one get away! 2) Never evaluate solutions at this stage. This is not the time for that and it will stifle creativity. Leave the evaluating to step four. For now Generate Solutions! If you watch people problem solve like we do, you will notice a lot of violations of rules 1 and 2 for Step 3. We usually see no time at all spent on Step 1 (Attitude) and precious little (if any) time spent on Step 2 (Defining and Describing). Then a solution is brought up that does not get written down. Then the person (or group) goes to work deciding whether that's a good solution or not. If it's judged to be good, problem solving is over. As you can imagine, this is NOT the road to creative problem solving. We can not stress enough the importance of following the rules of recording all solutions and not evaluating them as they come up. Above all make this an exciting process. Jump up and down, get your energy going, get excited. Think of it this way, if this is a problem worth solving, isn't it worth getting excited about? If the answer is "No," then go back and check your attitude. It needs adjusting. Step 4 - Choosing a Solution In Step 3 you came up with several possible solutions to your problem. You were careful to record them all and not evaluate them. You also made extra effort to get excited about generating the solutions. Now it's time to make a decision! You will decide what solution you want to try out. In a way this is going to be a repeat of defining and describing, but this time you will be describing each solution, then deciding how well you like it. If you tape-recorded your solutions, write down ALL the solutions you came up with. If you are by yourself, a piece of paper will do. If you are doing this in a group, do it on a board where all can see. Next, make two columns down the right side of the solutions. Label one column "Pros" the other "Cons." When you think of a good reason to use the solution, put a hash mark (|) in the pro column. Do the same for cons. Also, write down a note about each pro and con so you can remember what the hash marks stand for. The process of finding pros and cons is much like describing and defining the solutions. You ask questions like, Who will do it? What will be done? When will it be done? Just go through the five Ws and an H and define and describe each solution. This process often gives you more definition of the problem. You may well think of new solutions while you are doing this. That's fine, just put them at the bottom of the list and go back to defining the other solutions. When you have gone through each item on the list you will have a pretty good idea of which solutions you might want to try. So narrow the list down and really analyze the ones that look promising. Now comes a very important question, Which one do you think you can get most excited about doing? Try to find the most exciting solution because that's the one you are most likely to get motivated to do. That brings us to sustainability. For the most part you are better off if solutions follow the old "KISS" rule (Keep It Simple and Sustainable). If a solution is too hard and too complicated, it won't get done. If it's something you will forget to do, it won't get done. That's why it's important to see if you get excited about a solution. The simple fact is that you will tend to do things you are excited about doing. A good solution that gets done is a whole lot better than a great solution that does not get done. This is the end of Lesson 4. Now you have a Good Attitude, you have Defined and Described the problem, you have gotten excited and Generated Solutions and you have now Chosen A Solution that seems good and you are motivated to do. Lesson 5 - Doing and Reviewing In lesson 4 you learned how to go about choosing a solution. That came from your Good Attitude, your Description of the problem and getting excited about Generating Solutions. You defined each solution and decided whether it was worth a try. You decided on a solution that you are pretty sure you can stay motivated to do. Now you are ready to try it out. In other words, you are ready to "Do It." Before you do it, however, you want to make sure you will know if it's working. Remember back in Step 2 when I said it is important to define a problem in terms you can measure? Now you will want to use those measures to see if your solution is working. If you wanted to make more widgets per day, then you will need to count the widgets you make and see if you made more. What you measure depends entirely on how you defined the problem in the first place. So it's a simple matter to go back to Step 2 and see what you wrote down about the problem. Choose something you can measure. Now you will need to determine how things are in the present. For example, how many widgets are we making per day now? How much do I weigh now? How much money do I have now? Whatever you measure now will be your benchmark for checking how well your solution works in the future. If you implement the solution and thing improve, great! If you implement and things get worse, oops, it happens to the best of us. Things may even stay the same. In all three cases you have more work to do. Let's say things got better. Are they as good as you would like? If they are, how are you going to keep them that way? That may be a whole new problem to solve, maybe not. Maybe you can see a way to adjust your solution to make it even better. That often happens. Then again maybe your solution messed things up. This is called the rule of unforeseen consequences. Try as you might sometimes you just can't see how things will turn out. This is when that good problem-solving attitude really comes in handy. If you have a good attitude you will say, "Well, at least I learned something." Then you can go back to defining the problem equipped with the new information you now have. Face it, there is no other way you could have got that information without trying. [Sidebar] This is a good time to tell the story of Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb. He had to try over a thousand times to find the right filament. He was once asked how he could stand making over a thousand mistakes. He said something like, "They weren't mistakes, they were just steps to making a light bulb." With each attempt he knew what did not work. This is the true nature of problem solving. There are no failures; you just get more information. [End Sidebar] The third scenario is that things stay the same. Then there is a good chance that you did not have the problem defined well. In essence, you missed your target. The better you define your problem the more on target you will be with your solution. The answer is to keep your good attitude and go back to defining. Notice that while Creative Problem Solving is a five-step process, you will almost always backtrack to previous steps. For that matter, since problems are just a way of life, you will be continually restarting the process as one problem leads to another. If you are like most of us at times you will get in a hurry and skip over a step or two. That won't be a problem if you catch it. Just go back and do the step(s) you skipped. As you get into the flow of checking your attitude, defining, generating, choosing, then doing and reviewing the process will become second nature to you. Then when you hear others talking of solving problems you will begin to listen in terms of what stage they are in. What you will really notice is how they skip over crucial stages in the process. Remember, problem solving IS life. At times thing may get you down and you will feel stressed, sad and irritable. Of course, feeling stressed, tired and irritable is a problem! So go through the problem solving steps and find a solution. You will find that just going through the steps will help you feel better. That is because you will know you are about to do something to feel better. Lesson 6 - An Example Here is an example of how one might run through the creative problem solving steps you learned in Lessons 1 through 5. Example: Losing Weight You see this problem everywhere. We all know it is a popular problem because billions of dollars are spent on it every year. What people who want to lose weight tend to do is jump from one solution to another as they hear about the latest diet or exercise fad. For example, for years we avoided fat. Now we are told that may not be that big of a deal. Then we are told to avoid carbohydrates. First you have to do strenuous exercise 20 minutes a day, every other day. Then it's okay if you do ten minutes of good paced walking several times a week. The problem for a lot of people is that no matter what they try they either don't lose weight, or they don't keep it off when the lose it. This sounds like a problem for the Creative Problem Solving Method! Step 1: Attitude. In my opinion this is the source of most people's problems with weight. On the one hand they say they want to lose weight and keep it off, on the other hand they may be thinking, "I really can't lose weight." If that word "can't" is really in their thinking, they are doomed to failure. There are much less obvious attitude problems, however. One is control. A lot of people are angry because they have to lose weight. They are told they should lose weight, so they try, but secretly they resent it. They think thoughts like, "I know they all say I'm supposed to lose weight, but I should be able to eat what I want." Someone thinking this thought is losing weight for the wrong reason. The right reason is because of your health and how good you feel, not what people want you to do. There are dozens of different ways people can sabotage weight lose with negative thoughts. If you are trying to lose weight, don't forget to check your attitude work on changing any negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, you might think, "Eating healthy is good for me and can also taste good. I do not have to give up my favorite foods or enjoying meals with friends and family." Step 2 - Defining the Problem Who's problem is it? If it's your problem with your weight, that's fine. If it's someone else's problem with your weight, that's not okay. (This takes you right back to attitude, make sure you want to lose weight for you, not someone else.) What is the problem? Well, the obvious answer is fat, but there can be other problems. Maybe you have expensive clothes that you are about to "grow" out of. Maybe your doctor has told you your heart is in trouble. Maybe you want to be more attractive to yourself so you will be more attractive to others. Maybe you like chocolate just a little too much. Where is the problem? You might say the problem is in your butt and gut. Then again the problem might be hanging around the pastry shop too much. Maybe you can't get in your car anymore. There are lots of "where's." When is it a problem? For sure it's a problem when you are eating. It's a problem when you are hungry. Is the problem when you are with others or alone? Do you eat the most at a certain time of day? Timing has a lot to do with eating. Make sure you define it well. How? How do you decide what to eat? How do you eat? Fast or slow? How do you cook dinner? How do you get something for lunch? How do you shop? How do you exercise? Better, how do you avoid exercising? You really need to know the steps you take to eating and exercising. Why? Why do you really want to lose weight? Be honest with yourself. Make sure you have a good reason that motivates you. Generating Solutions: Take up marathon running. Become a vegetarian (they always look skinny). Go on the latest diet. Exercise for five minutes a day. Count calories. Cook low fat meals. Cook high protein meals. Take up a new sport. Get liposuctioned. Buy and use an exercise machine. Buy a new scale. Go on diet pills. Don't go food shopping for weeks. See your doctor. Go on the "Chocolate" diet. Take off your clothes (guaranteed to lose weight) Choosing a Solution: Obviously some of the solutions are silly. It won't take long to define those. They are there to have fun, so they get written down in the spirit of having fun. Marathon - Who? You. What? Running. Where? On the road, on a track? When? Morning or afternoon for several hours at a time. How? Get up, get your running clothes on, take off. Why? It's a good way to burn calories. Pros: Definitely will lose weight. Cons: Very Time consuming. Pounds your body. You get the idea, you can do the rest using the 5Ws and an H, then doing pros and cons. What you want to end up with is a solution that has a good chance of working AND there is a good chance you are motivated to do it. If you are not motivated, then that's another problem. (How will I get motivated to _________.) Doing and Reviewing Let's say "Exercise five minutes per day" was chosen, and exercise was defined as "Brisk Walking" in Step 4. So you put five minutes of walking per day in your schedule for several days. After each day you look back and recall if you spent time doing "Brisk Walking." If no time was spent, you need to go back to Step 1 and check your attitude. The same thing can be done with any of the solutions that seem likely to lose you weight, as long as the solution is defined in terms that you can measure. Walking can be measured in miles or minutes per day. Weight lifting can me measured in reps and how much you lift. Weight loss is measured in pounds and inches. Whatever you do come up with a measure that you know you can keep doing. If you stop reviewing your progress, then you probably will stop doing the solution. That usually means that your problem will not go away, or it will return. Keep reviewing how well you are doing your solutions. It's the secret of solving any problem. ================================================== Here is a check list of the five Creative Problem Solving Steps and the most important points to remember about each one. -Attitude - Problems are just part of life. Just roll up your sleeves and take them on. Remember you CAN solve problems. Most problems are not emergencies. -Defining and Describing - Ask Who, What, Where, When, How and Why questions about the problem. Ask them until you have a good "picture" of what the problem is. -Generating Solutions - Get excited! Then let the solutions fly. Record them all. Don't evaluate them, just let them out! If you get stuck, set things aside and get more information. Read books and articles to find possible solutions. Take your time, it's not an emergence. -Choosing a Solution - Get your list of solutions and define and describe each one. Ask the 5 Ws and an H question about each one. Then write down the pros and cons of each solution. Narrow the list down to solutions you are pretty sure you can get motivated to do. Then choose the one that seems to be a good solution that you WILL do. Do and Review - Try out your solution and see if it works. You know what to measure because you described that in steps 2 and 4. So measure your results and see if the solution is working. If it works, keep reviewing your results. If not, go back to step 1. Remember! This is not a rigid process. You will find yourself jumping around the steps. As a matter of fact, you will probably catch yourself after you have implemented a solution and it's not working. Then you will recall that you skipped over some steps. Don't be hard on yourself. I catch myself doing that and I have been doing this for almost 20 years! Just go back and go through the steps you missed. Have a Great Time Problem Solving! Warmest Regards, Drs. Burkhart and Polk

permalink source: Time Doctor
tags: Problems, Creativity

Luke: Parable of the Shrewd Manager Glin, one of the division managers for Sluggo Cola was called into the office of the CEO one day. Goe sat in his chair behind his desk and looked at his employee. "Glin. I have been examining your records and think you have some explaining to do." "But sir, sales are up by 25% over the last quarter!" "So are expenses. And the expenses have been rising for the last six quarters. And some of you're numbers just don't add up." Goe squinted his beady eyes at Glin. He sneered, "I can only conclude that you have been, shall we say, 'skimming off the top.' I want you out of here by Monday." A dejected Glin slunk back to his office. What could he do? All he had worked for was gone. Sure, he had a little saved away, but what he had been skimming wouldn't last forever. High level jobs like his didn't come along every day, and he was to proud to go back to low level anything. After all, there is no honor in poverty (RoA 106). And then a light bulb came on over his head. He sat behind his desk and punched some numbers on his computer. The screen buzzed to life and the wizened form of Gimes, CEO of Ankh-Morpork Catering Co., Inc. appeared. "Can I help you, Glin?" "No. But I can help you. I've been examing your records and I think we can renegotiate your debt. You owe us 800 bars of gold pressed latinum. How about we call it 400 bars?" "Sounds too good to be true. What's the catch?" "No catch." "I'll sign." And the link closed. Glin smiled, showing all his crooked teeth. He punched up another number and was soon talking to the Smalk, CEO of Chik-Burgers!(R). "Let's cut the small talk, Smalk. You owe my company 1000 bars/gpl. What would you think about making it 800 bars?" Smalk nodded, thumbed the necessary documents and closed the connection. Glin spent the rest of the afternoon making calls. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- A few weeks later, Glin decided it was time to talk to his new "friends." He called several of the debtors whom he had renegotiated things with. They all bemoaned his loss of work and were quite sorry for him. In the interest of good relations, several made monetary gifts from their accounts, and Gimes even offered him a nice job. "Aren't you lucky that your company offered to renegotiate our debt just before you lost your job?" Glin nodded, but he was thinking about the 44th Rule of Acquisition- "Never confuse wisdom with luck." ---------------------------------------------------------------------- It didn't take long for Goe to hear about Glin's good fortune. A casual glance at the account's receivable showed what he had done. "That scoundrel! He was skimming off of me, and then he cheated me even more. He learned well. I hope Gimes knows to watch his back. Glin certainly knows how to think for the future."

permalink source: Frank Luke
tags: Wisdom, Creativity

Despite the "Do Not Touch" signs, a museum was having no success in keeping patrons from touching--and soiling--priceless furniture and art. But the problem evaporated overnight when a clever museum employee replaced the signs with ones that read: "Caution: Wash Hands After Touching!

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Clarity, Communication, Creativity

Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the vervet monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it's simple. They've been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can't get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Sin, Greed, Creativity

This is an ineffective solution to a non-existent problem.

permalink source: Victor Frysinger
tags: Problems, Change, Creativity

I was able to spend time with Dr. Schuller before my talk. (He told me not to preach, but to tell my failure stories to the crowd – that would encourage them he said!) It was a thrill to spend time with this seasoned veteran of the evangelism world. During lunch with Dr. Schuller he leaned over to me and said that he had followed the progression of servant evangelism with eagerness. He is excited about the idea and relates to the spirit of the concept. He then told me a secret that has guided him through many years of ministry highs and lows. He said when he gets stuck he converts that moment into a prayer – “God, give me an idea!” Those were profound words that have echoed through my soul for the past several weeks. I have realized that that has been my prayer on many occasions whether I realized it at the time or not. I’ve gotten stuck in many ministry quagmires over the years. I’ve needed inspiration. God has come through time and again as I have prayed that simple prayer and waited upon him. For example, we have had a desire to reach out to the college community around the University of Cincinnati. While there are many needs in the lives of these students, we wanted to grab their attention in a way that they would not soon forget. We prayed for an idea and got one. Give them toilet paper in Christ’s name. As we knock on apartment and dorm room doors the standard response is, “But I already have toilet paper.” To that we say, “Yes, but this is Christian toilet paper!” We usually have them at that.

permalink source: Steve Sjogren, "God, Give Me An Idea!"
tags: Failure, Creativity, Evangelism

A police officer pulled a man over for speeding and had the following exchange: Officer: May I see your driver's license? Driver: I don't have one. I had it suspended when I got my fifth DUI. Officer: May I see the owner's card for this vehicle? Driver: It's not my car. I stole it. Officer: The car is stolen? Driver: That's right. But, come to think of it, I believe I saw the owner's card in the glove box when I was putting my gun in there. Officer: There's a gun in the glove box? Driver: Yes, sir. That's where I put it after I shot and killed the woman who owns this car and stuffed her in the trunk. Officer: There's a BODY in the TRUNK?!?!? Driver: Yes, sir. Hearing this, the officer immediately called his captain. The car was quickly surrounded by police, and the captain approached the driver: Captain: Sir, can I see your license? Driver: Sure. Here it is. It was valid. Captain: Who's car is this? Driver: It's mine, officer. Here's the registration. Captain: Could you slowly open your glove box so I can see if there's a gun in it? Driver: Yes, sir, but there's no gun in it. Sure enough, there was nothing in the glove box. Captain: Would you mind opening your trunk? I was told there's a body in it. Driver: No problem. The trunk was opened; no body. Captain: I don't understand it. The officer who stopped you said you told him you didn't have a license, stole the car, had a gun in the glovebox, and that there was a dead body in the trunk. Driver: Yeah, I'll bet he told you I was speeding, too.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Lying, Creativity

THE SNEEZE They walked in tandem, each of the ninety-three students filing into the already crowded auditorium. With rich maroon gowns flowing and the traditional caps, they looked almost as grown up as they felt. Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and moms freely brushed away tears. This class would not pray during the commencements ----- not by choice but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it. The principal and several students were careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and challenging speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for blessings on the graduates or their families. The speeches were nice, but they were routine ... until the final speech received a standing ovation. A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then he delivered his speech. An astounding - - - SNEEZE! The rest of the students rose immediately to their feet, and in unison they said, "GOD BLESS YOU." The audience exploded into applause. The graduating class found a unique way to invoke God's blessing on their future with or without the court's approval. Isn't this a wonderful story?

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Creativity, Evangelism

A leader is not the man who has the best ideas; he is the man who uses the best ideas. (The point is that we need to be willing to learn from others and also to record our own ideas that fly into our head)

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Leadership, Humility, Creativity

[Youth ministers often do crazy things. Here are some that are a little beyond the edge] Top 10 Christmas Activities You SHOULDN'T Do! Tug-o-Christmas Lights Ornament Body Piercing Contest Bobbing for Reindeer "Road Apples" Green Paint Pellet Russian Roulette Store Santa Hunt Write Your Name on Frosty (guys slumber party game) Christmas Caroler Water Balloon Launch Ambush Chimney Chute Races Christmas Tree Joust Pin the Bayonet on the Rudolf

permalink source: Jonathan's E-Zine
tags: Creativity, Christmas, Youth Ministry

Chick-lit authors may be trying to resist, but they don't know what to put in the place of that skeletal fashion-magazine cover model. The cover-model ideal is warped and twisted, but they can't manage to unwarp it. I'm reminded of J. R. R. Tolkien's orcs, who (according to the Silmarillion) were modeled on elves by the dark powers; they were fashioned "by slow arts of cruelty … in envy and mockery," because dark powers can only warp and twist, not create afresh. If you've never seen an elf, and you try to work backwards from an orc to its model, you're darn well not going to end up with Orlando Bloom. [good illustration of how you can't build on negation] http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2004/002/2.10.html

permalink source: Susan Wise Bauer, Food Porn: the secret life of chick lit, Books & Culture March/April 2004
tags: Holiness, Creativity

When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.

permalink source: R. Buckminster Fuller
tags: Problems, Beauty, Creativity

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.

permalink source: Raymond Inmon
tags: Creativity

The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.

permalink source: Linus Pauling
tags: Creativity

There is a correlation between the creative and the screwball. So we must suffer the screwball gladly.

permalink source: Kingman Brewster
tags: Creativity, Tolerance

Few people think more than two or three times a year. I've made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.

permalink source: George Bernard Shaw Source: The Art of Creative Thinking - book by Robert Olson (1986)
tags: Creativity

The lion must roar. -- C. S. Lewis (i.e. we must be true to our deepest creative desires whenever possible.)

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Authenticity, Creativity

High heels were invented by somebody who was kissed on the forehead.

permalink source: Christopher Morley
tags: Problems, Creativity

Most advances in science come when a person for one reason or another is forced to change fields. --

permalink source: Peter Borden
tags: Science, Creativity

Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in society has always been proportioned in the amount of genius, mental vigor and moral courage which it contained. That so few men now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of our time. --

permalink source: John Steward Mill
tags: Creativity, Peer Pressure

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Creativity, Teams

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." -- Henry David Thoreau

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Creativity

Life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing those you do hold well. -- Josh Billings

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Problems, Creativity

If you’re going to be original, you are going to be wrong a lot." -- Roger Von Oech, A Whack on the Side of the Head: How to Unlock Your Mind for Innovation

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Failure, Mistake, Originality, Creativity

There once was a man who said, "I will be original or I will be nothing." He became both. – Peter Wagner

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Failure, Originality, Success, Creativity

Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind." -- Leonardo da Vinci

permalink source: Anonymous
tags: Laziness, Creativity, Practice

Ideas are malleable and unstable, they not only can be misused, they invite misuse--and the better the idea the more volatile it is. That's because only the better ideas turn into dogma, and it is this process whereby a fresh, stimulating, humanly helpful idea is changed into robot dogma that is deadly…The problem starts at the secondary level, not with the originator or developer of the idea but with the people who are attracted by it, who cling to it until their last nail breaks, and who invariably lack the overview, flexibility, imagination, and, most importantly, sense of humor, to maintain it in the spirit in which it was hatched. Ideas are made by masters, dogma by disciples, and the Buddha is always killed on the road.

permalink source: "Still Life with Woodpecker" by Tom Robbins.
tags: Creativity, Legalism, Dogmatism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Corrigan Meant to fly from New York to California, wound up in Ireland. Says it was a mistake, most people think he just did an end-run on the passport people.

permalink source: source
tags: Mistake, Creativity

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they've had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

permalink source: Steve Jobs
tags: Creativity

Brains like familiarity, but they get bored. They are genetically programmed to want to discover new patterns. You don't want it too new because that seems dangerous. You want it somewhat familiar and somewhat new. Think of music. The best music has some kind of essence of things you can recognize: a normal beat, harmonies, and melodic phrases, but you don't want to hear the same old, same old. You want something that's slightly jarring, and a little bit clever. The newness matters more than any other particular aspect of the aesthetic value. You want newness combined with cleverness. Somehow new and old at the same time gives the best design. If a design is so new that people can't relate to it, then they reject it, even if they could theoretically learn how to use it because it's very clever. Styles are like this in general; if you have a new style for clothing, generally you don't want it to be too crazy. You want it to be just slightly different, enough that people say, "Oh, that's cool." It's built into the human brain. We want familiarity, we want to be able to learn how to use it, but we also want some newness to it, and that's what makes us excited about it. [As cited in Bill Moggridge, Designing Interactions, page 234 - no further details (page numbers, etc) in the reference].

permalink source: Jeff Hawkins, On Intelligence
tags: Creativity

I don't believe in total freedom for the artist. Left on his own, free to do anything he likes, the artist ends up doing nothing at all. If there's one thing that's dangerous for an artist, it's precisely this question of total freedom, waiting for inspiration and all the rest of it.

permalink source: Frederico Fellini, Italian filmmaker
tags: Creativity, Freedom

Sometimes childhood rejection is transformed into strength. If a child or adolescent can survive feelings of exclusion, either through effective rationalizations or the winning of compensatory prizes, the later anticipation of criticism provokes minimal uncertainty. Many years ago, two psychologists at the University of California in Berkeley compared mathematicians and architects who had been nominated by their peers as extremely creative with members of the same profession who were judged successful but judged less creative. A major difference between the two groups was that the creative professionals had experienced peer rejection during adolescence because of physical stigmata, less talent at peer-valued skills, or membership in a minority group. The chronic rejection permitted these creative professionals to develop an indifference to peer opinion that made it easier to entertain ideas they knew would be unpopular.

permalink source: Jerome Kagan, An Argument for Mind, 109
tags: Solitude, Creativity, Teenagers

Tricked For Their Own Good

A German nursing home has come up with a novel idea to stop Alzheimer's patients from wandering off: a phantom bus stop.... "It sounds funny," said Old Lions Chairman Franz-Josef Goebel, "but it helps. Our members are 84 years-old on average. Their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home." The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.

permalink source: http://www.boingboing.net/2008/06/05/fake-bus-stop-keeps.html
tags: Psychology, Creativity, Deception