Hello there. It’s me again. And yes, I decided that I still had too much ‘creative thinking’ on my mind (no pun intended), to switch topics and write about something completely different today. Hope you’re okay with that.
So yesterday I talked about a lot of ways non-creative people are still creative. See, it’s not an oxymoron. But I did confine the conversation to those of us who work in ad agencies, an industry perceived as being ‘creative’ anyway. And because I think it’s important for you to know that I am a firm believer in the fact that creativity can, and should, and does, exist outside of ‘creative’ businesses, I’m approaching the idea from a different perspective, today.
At its very simplest, it’s called out of the box thinking. Being willing to turn a problem, or a tough challenge, on its ear, looking at it from a different angle, through a different lens.
Being willing, regardless of what you do for a living, to sweep aside the status quo and embrace new ideas. Different ideas. Unconventional ideas for your industry. Client-centric ideas. Revolutionary ideas. Never-before-considered or tried ideas. Regardless of whether you work in the private or public sectors. Regardless of whether you are a health care worker, an educator, a politician, a CEO, a sales person, a scientist, a researcher, a lawyer, or an accountant; or even a tinker, tailor, soldier or spy.
What I’m talking about is ‘design thinking’. Born out of industrial design, design thinking is a very disciplined, systematic, strategic process (yet intensely creative) that is used to solve what most of us would consider unsolvable challenges, like finding an innovative way to deliver clean drinking water in the developing world. I find it absolutely fascinating. I’m obsessed with it, in fact. And I am a rabid fan of a global consultancy based in California, IDEO, who are pioneers in the field, and worked on the drinking water project. I am also a huge fan of their President and CEO, Tim Brown, who has written a book “Change By Design“, that I have read at least two dozen times. Buy it, you won’t be sorry.
He spoke in Toronto earlier this year, and I went. Surprise, surprise. He presented a lot of impressive and varied case studies, but my favourite was a project they did for the Singapore government. I wrote about it in my other blog, my business blog, Fransi Weinstein Et Al. So instead of giving you the details now, here’s a link to that, particular post.
I follow a lot of very good WordPress blogs. One of them is called Book Peeps. And the other day its author posted an interesting and provocative piece on education. Specifically, what’s wrong with our educational ‘system’, who’s really to blame, what role both parents and teachers can play and what can be done about it. Her post was inspired by an article (there’s a link to it in the post) she read about the differences in how eastern and western cultures tackle teaching.
As I read her post, all I could think was: “Now there’s an ‘opportunity’ that’s just crying out for a team from IDEO.” And that’s what inspired this post, of mine.
Any other issues you can think of that could benefit from some innovative thinking, IDEO style? In my not so humble opinion, the U.S. ‘fiscal cliff’ issue is a perfect candidate. If I was President Obama I’d be thinking seriously about bringing them to the table. I’m certainly in no position to speak for the management of IDEO but I’ll bet they might even consider doing it pro bono. I sure would. Talk about a juicy assignment. And talk about the fame (and fortune) that would follow, if you could wrestle that problem to the ground successfully!
But in all seriousness, that issue is going to take creative thinking to solve. And from what I’ve seen, at a great distance I admit, I’m not so sure the people involved have what it takes.
For that matter, the Middle East crisis desperately needs some innovative thinking, as well. But not all the ‘problems’ need to be as grand as these few examples I’ve cited. Even in our local communities there are many opportunities to look at things differently. To improve the way they’re done. Make them more efficient. Make them easier to use or access. Make them more end-user friendly. Make them more relevant. Make them more cost effective.
The solutions are within all of us. We just need to climb out of the ruts we’re in. We just need to open our eyes and ears and minds to the possibilities. We just need to learn how to collaborate, because none of us has the answer on our own. We just need to embrace change. And most of all, we just need to want to have the time of our lives, because there’s nothing more stimulating, or more fun, energizing and exciting than solving problems, brilliantly!
President Obama’s campaign theme was ‘Forward’. I’d like to add something to that: ‘Forward. Redefined!‘