Archives for the month of: February, 2010

I spent over 10 years consulting for a number of companies – some very large, some fairly small.  Early on in my career I would come upon a solution, way of working or creative idea that worked really well at one of my customers.  Being of the consulting mindset I considered it a “best practice” and then tried to apply it everywhere else (gotta hammer and everything looks like a nail.)  I’m sure you can take a good guess how that turned out.

Good ideas that get results are usually successful not just because they are good ideas. Success also depends on time, place and people.

A good idea can be successful in one place and time, but not another. For example, the concept of contact lenses was introduced over 60 years before the technology to produce them was available.  Additionally, the people who are the customer for a good idea have to see a reason to start using, producing, buying the idea. If fashionable eyeglasses were all the rage when contacts were first manufactured then the product would have failed.

The lesson I learned from my consulting days was that I can’t just take a good idea and transplant it from one company to another.  It depends on the “when”, “where”, “who”, and “how.”  Understand your customer, their culture, what they have been successful doing in the past, and what their needs are now and for the future. Then consider what made your good idea good. Tweak it. And move on.

“Lewis and Clark were lost most of the time. If your idea of exploration is to always know where you are and to be inside your zone of competence, you don’t do wild new shit. You have to be confused, upset, think you’re stupid. If you’re not willing to do that, you can’t go outside the box”

Nathan Myhrvold (speaking about Bill Gates)

If you haven’t had the chance I suggest you take a look at this performance by Pink at the 2010 Grammys. Whether you are a fan or not you have to admire the beauty, grace, artistry and imagination of this performance.

After being surprised and then spellbounded by the choreography I thought about the incredible risk of the very idea to do this. In the midst of typical flashing lights, synchronized group dancing, and cheezy sets of other performances, someone(s) not only thought outside the box, but took the box apart and reassembled it into something completely different and then threw it out the window to build an entirely new box!

How 0ften are we this creative? Whether your job is to be creative or your job is checking people out at the local grocery you have the opportunity and the potential to be this creative.

Now I’m not just talking about rethinking what is already there. That is a typical constraint – “We have this red thingy here…let’s make it green instead of red!” If you are here you are not even close to the creative opportunity that Nathan Myhrvold speaks about in the quote above.

I’m suggesting you throw the thingy away and rethink the entire concept. Use every tool, technique, system, and resource available to you to breakout of the box, stomp on it and create a whole new one!