Extreme creativity can scare some people, but . . .

The people saying you and your bold ideas are “crazy” generally have way too many problems of their own. That’s why they have energy to waste “fixing” you.


Don’t let people who have no idea what they are talking about tell you your bold ideas are crazy. Celebrate your extreme creativity.

And if you need help with getting yourself ready for the extreme creativity that leads to bold ideas, take advantage of all these Brainzooming creative thinking resources.

Mike Brown


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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.


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imageWhen it comes to creative thinking exercises, I’m typically a proponent of introducing people to incremental creative thinking before trying to dunk them into extreme creativity.

That preference is predicated on getting people more familiar and comfortable with smaller creative steps. In that way, the first creative step you ask them to take isn’t such a doozie.

Sometimes, however, when it comes to creative thinking exercises, starting small is not the best strategy to follow.

We were using a combo creative thinking exercise recently. We had asked creative thinking session participants for three progressive creative leaps. For the first step, it was okay for their response to be a conventional idea. We wanted to stretch the creative thinking, however, for steps two and three, with the third answer being a strong example of extreme creativity.

While that was the plan, the mindset we first set was too incremental creatively and too lasting.

Our initial question got them too stuck on what’s happening today.

Subsequently, absent very strong and clear extreme creativity inducing questions for steps two and three, we had to work extra hard to move everyone toward more outrageous ideas. We eventually pushed toward extreme creativity in their responses, but it was much harder than it needed to be.

The lesson?

While it’s not always the case, sometimes you do need to go big creatively right from the start before you are forced to go home with overly familiar ideas. – Mike Brown


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Extreme-CreativitySuppose you have an opposite strategic situation relative to the one described in yesterday’s article: you have too many extreme ideas you need to determine how to implement.

In cases where you have more extreme creativity than you can begin to implement, you want to be able to turn a really big creative idea into something that can actually move forward.

If you’re trying to create strategic impact, you don’t want to have to abandon a big creative idea because of failing to figure out how to turn it into something you can make happen.

5 Creative Thinking Questions to Harness Extreme Creativity

If you’re facing this issue, try these five questions to re-shape and re-shift extreme ideas back to reality:

  1. If it’s too big or risky to do, how can you break off a small piece and pursue that?
  2. If it’s too dangerous to do, how can you take away the least amount of danger while keeping as much extreme as possible?
  3. If it’s too ridiculous to do, how can you make it just realistic enough to get started implementing it?
  4. If it’s too radical, how can you make it seem not as overtly threatening?
  5. If it goes off in the wrong direction, how can you take a seed of the idea and nurture it so it develops in a valuable way?

Having worked for several creative geniuses during my career, these types of questions were de rigueur for turning their extreme creativity into reality. – Mike Brown


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Christmas-RanchWe feature a variety of reality-TV based extreme creativity ideas on the Brainzooming blog. I have been able to eat at a few Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives restaurants, but other than that, I don’t have many in real life connections to these extreme creativity examples. Today’s extreme creativity example is different!

Extreme Creativity at The Christmas Ranch

While on the elliptical trainer at our gym one December, an extreme Christmas lights show  extreme reality show ( HGTV’s Outta Control Christmas) was on throughout the bank of TVs. During the program, I saw my cousin’s incredible display of Christmas lights, toy trains, and just about everything else celebratory, seasonal, and over-the-top extreme creativity for the holiday.

Since then, my cousin, Dr. Mike Fuchs, and his family have moved the Christmas display to The Christmas Ranch, featuring more than 350,000 animated Christmas lights across its ten acres, with an animated light forest and seven themed Christmas shops! Check out this quick video of what extreme creativity for the holiday looks like around Morrow, OH!

Mike Brown


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There’s been a great reaction to the Brainzooming article on 10 Brainstorming Questions from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, the Food Network celebration of off-beat restaurants hosted by Guy Fieri.

Since becoming a fan of this Food Network show, I’ve made it to three featured restaurants. The most recent was RJ’s Bob-Be-Que in Mission, KS earlier this week for Buck-a-Bone Tuesday, which means $1 per rib. That’s good eating!

But in the interest of turning my fascination with Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Guy Fieri into something other than extra pounds, it’s time for more reality TV-driven extreme creativity! To the earlier 10 brainstorming questions, let’s add these 6 extreme creativity lessons gleaned from a recent Diners, Drive-ins and Dives marathon:

1. Go be a fish out of water

Maybe extreme creativity is tough for you. If it is, one way to turn yourself into an extreme creativity force is taking your talents and applying them in a completely unexpected and new environment. There are a variety of “Triple D” stories where a chef radically changed geographic location or work environment to trigger extreme creativity. Put a Louisiana-influenced Cajun cook in Minnesota, and you have a fish out of water recipe for extreme creativity. Where can you be a fish out of water?

2. Fuse unrelated creativity channels together

It seems like there have been several stops lately on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives involving a parked food truck supplying the kitchen facilities for a bar or restaurant. There’s an idea for you. How can you fuse two or more apparently unrelated creativity channels together to create something people don’t expect?

3. Do your extreme creativity old style

Despite modern innovations available to cooks, many manifest extreme creativity by foregoing new ways of doing things. For instance, despite the availability of incredible industrial food mixers, there are many instances where cooks are mixing things by hand because it provides closeness to the work and an awareness of quality variations. Do you have a similar opportunity to apply old style techniques to your creativity to turn it into extreme creativity?

4. Figure out the equivalent of deep frying in your area of extreme creativity

Watching any episode of “Triple D,” it’s clear you can deep fry any food, and it has a high probability of being very good. The more outlandish the food, the more outrageous the success. There’s got to be something to this. What’s the equivalent of deep frying in your focus area? What’s the one thing you can do to make your creativity extremely crispy, crunchy, and incredibly tasty? Whatever it is in your field, pursue your own version of deep fried extreme creativity!

5. Smash different parts into one

Most meals are served in separate courses: appetizer, entrée, side dishes, dessert. It’s not surprising to see all those courses smashed together into one menu item at restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. How can you employ the same idea? How can you take what would normally be separate creative pursuits and smash them together into one colossal creative feast?

6. Don’t clean up after you’ve gotten all creative

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of places on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives aren’t all that clean. Some of the chefs even take pride in how the flavor of the cooking builds up over time on utensils and cooking surfaces. While that’s a little disconcerting, there can definitely be something to it creatively. Having the afterglow of past creative highlights on your tools might be just what you need to inspire some extreme creativity. – Mike Brown


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational innovation boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.



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To commemorate World Creativity and Innovation Week, here are some of the top viewed extreme creativity-oriented articles on the Brainzooming blog since last year’s World Creativity and Innovation Week.

5 More Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Cake Boss” – Sharing lessons from Buddy the Cake Boss is like creating a magnet for great innovation. This follow-up from the original Cake Boss post actually takes off into space!

9 Extreme Creativity Questions from Peter’s Laws – A fun set of questions you can use to prompt more extreme creativity and innovation.

Protecting Your Creativity in a Culture that Doesn’t Value It – If you’re trying to create a more creative culture, you’ve got to protect yourself while you’re at it.

Diet Coke Can Redesign – Branding and Creativity Lessons – Coca-Cola made some big packaging changes to iconic brands this past year. The white Coke can didn’t work, but the Diet Coke change worked.

4 Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour” – I’ve had second thoughts about this post, especially since the video that inspired it disappeared from YouTube. Even though I disagree with a lot of what she puts forward as awakened thinking, these four lessons hold up.

14 Ideas for Creativity Boost this Work Week – This is a solid list to return to when the work week is sapping your innovative spirit and you need a creativity boost.

Focused Daydreaming – A Practical Tool from Chris Griffiths – One of a couple of guest posts on this list, Chris Griffiths provides a creative rationale for letting our minds wander!

10 Lessons to Integrate Creativity in Business – #BMAUnleash Panel – A panel discussion recap from the 2011 Business Marketing Association conference, there are some true creative gems in here, especially from Randall Rozin at Dow Corning.

Create an Extreme Creativity Makeover Project Team – Why not have a really fun, creative job title, especially if it helps counteract your boring traditional job title?

Space and Creativity – Woody Bendle weighs in on 3 different types of space that enhance your creative pursuits.

Extreme Creativity – 10 Brainstorming Questions from Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives – I love watching reality TV shows that yield great lessons, especially extreme creativity lessons. Here are 10 brainstorming questions from sitting through lots of great looking food on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

2012 TED – 8 Takeaways on Extreme Creativity and Amazing Innovation – The 2012 TED simulcast was uneven at best, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t still some great extreme creativity lessons to take away!

5 Lessons from the Guy behind the Facebook Like Button – One of my favorite things to read each week is the creativity column in the Saturday Wall Street Journal. This one in particular contained very valuable lessons from a key Facebook designer.

Pictures (of Creativity) Are Worth a 1,000 Words – Despite repeated vows to do more with images on the blog, images still take center stage too infrequently. These creativity pictures were a great substitute for writing a bunch of words, though.

Creativity, Innovation and the Intrepid Radio Podcast – Whether online, in-person, or via podcast, Todd Schnick always prompts a great creative discussion. Here’s our talk about creativity vs. innovation and what the differences are.

I hope you’ll enjoy clicking back to a few of these posts since last year’s World Creativity and Innovation week. If everything goes as planned, we’ll be announcing a new eBook soon that’s part of a bigger effort to encourage and energize organizations to embrace new thinking from within their workforces. Stay tuned! – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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With a theme of “Full Spectrum,” maybe it should not be a surprise the 2012 TED Simulcast featured an odd range of content quality. There was a valuable session on extreme creativity (“Session 6 – The Crowd”), an intriguing session on amazing innovation (“Session 4 – The Lab”), and an important 2012 TED session that was a disappointing mess (“Session 5 – The Earth”). After sitting through a long day of 2012 TED Simulcast presentations at Kansas City’s Nelson Atkins museum (and enduring the perennial poor food service planning plus getting booted from my original seat because someone decided we shouldn’t be creating online content from the 2012 TED simulcast), I didn’t even stick around for the day’s final session, “The City.”

Rather than profiling highlights of each “Full Spectrum” session as in previous TED and TEDxKC recaps, here are eight takeaways that apply to extreme creativity and amazing innovation from across the various “Full Spectrum” 2012 TED Simulcast talks:

1. If you create your own brand new world, do you, by definition, become a child again in that new world – a child without fear?

Regina Dugan, director of DARPA (whose mission is “the prevention of strategic surprise”) spoke about fear of failure constraining us. You can’t both fear failure and create amazing innovation. As Regina Dugan put it, kids are in touch with their inner superheroes, so they aren’t afraid of failure. If kids aren’t afraid, can we as adults replicate a youthful fearlessness through gaming and putting ourselves in situations where we don’t already know what will and won’t work? Doing so can be the key to amazing innovation.

2. Can you design an “undo button” into what you do that prompts bolder experimentation?

Jack Choi demonstrated an interactive virtual dissection table allowing surgeons to practice without cadavers. At one point, Jack Choi made a miscue, but he could hit an undo button and start over. While my tweet about the value of building undo buttons into our work triggered a contrary view from a Twitter troll, I think having something that functions as an undo button DOES lead to bolder experimentation and extreme creativity.

3. Grounding yourself in the known and familiar can trigger extreme creativity.

Materials engineer Donald Sadoway discussed developing batteries from dirt since his goal was to make something “dirt cheap” to produce energy. He starts every design challenge with the periodic table (What’s your common starting point?) and hires students for his lab because he can teach them how to think about a problem from his perspective before turning them loose seeking extreme creativity. Donald Sadoway also gives his students challenges he’s not sure will work, but doesn’t tell them so they’re primed to explore and deliver amazing innovation.

4. Create mind illusions for yourself and others to trigger the best exploration.

Whether it’s creating a faux new world, an undo button equivalent, hiding uncertainties from your team, or configuring something else designed to make you forget what you know, mind illusions are vital tools for creative thinking and exploration.

5. When you have some really cool technology, people will apparently put up with performance previously considered substandard.

I’ve been fascinated by how willing people are to embrace tiny screens and iffy resolution (reminiscent of television’s early days) because cool technology and other benefits (freedom of movement, better time management, amusement, etc.) accompany the small screens. It’s clear we’ll switch out what’s important based on a whole array of benefits. Vijay Kumar presented fascinating videos of his work with autonomous aerial robots. He discussed how they are be used for search & rescue, first responder missions, and construction and transportation chores. At the end of his talk, however, he showed a video of robots playing instruments to perform the James Bond theme. As a musical piece, it was plodding at best, but because it was the James Bond theme being performed by flying autonomous aerial robots, it’s clearly an amazing innovation.


6. How readily are we looking for places with the least information and heading directly there to build up knowledge?

One of the tasks Vijay Kumar demonstrated with the autonomous aerial robots was their ability to enter unknown or damaged buildings in dangerous situations and create building maps as they encounter new sections. Kumar said the robots know to look for places with the least information, going there first to build maps. His statement stayed with me. We may know to go to the places in life with the least information, but how readily do we? Some people are explorers by nature and do it without a second thought. Others are reluctant and never learn or do as much as they could to create new knowledge.

7. You can get lots of people to help if you can get in front of lots of people who give a damn.

This idea sums up “Session 6 – The Crowd” for me. The impact of a motivated crowd ran through the session:

  • LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman discussed the need to break bread with the exceptionally large and interconnected networks technology allows us to cultivate if we expect to deliver and reap benefits from them.
  • Crowdsourced TED speaker Lior Zoref brought out an ox and asked viewers to share how much they thought the ox weighed. Five hundred people, including yours truly, submitted answers online. The crowd average: 1792 pounds. Actual weight of the ox: 1795 pounds. My answer 1800 pounds.
  • Jen Phalka, a self-described “code” activist, recruits tech people to donate time to governments for a year to help solve problems and improve the impact of government bureaucracy. One programmer wrote an app allowing people to adopt, name, and shovel out fire hydrants in snowstorms. It was subsequently modified and used in nine cities (i.e., adopting Tsunami sirens in Hawaii) to create a game out of citizens stepping up to provide services to their communities. It all comes back to creating apps (and virtual places) to make it easy for people to self-identify their interests, congregate, and do something about what matters to them.
  • Frank Warren of PostSecret.com shared some of the more than five hundred thousand secrets strangers have sent him on store bought and homemade postcards since starting his project. Thanks to their contributions, Frank Warren and PostSecret project have yielded multiple books and made his website the most visited website not running advertising. Again, it’s all about creating a virtual place for people to congregate – and allowing others to watch. Think confession + voeyeurism.

8. Decade after decade, you can’t beat a human beat box.

One of my favorite moments of the whole day was Reggie Watts – vocalist, beatboxer, and comedian. Live multi-tracking his own vocal parts, his content wasn’t traditionally crowdsourced. Instead, Reggie Watts creates his own crowd. Here is Reggie Watts with his performance from the 2011 TEDxMidAtlantic event, although his 2012 TED Simulcast performance was even more fun than this one.

 What Were Your Takeaways?

If you attended TED, a 2012 TED simulcast, or have watched some of the videos, what were your Full Spectrum 2012 TED takeaways?  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at             816-509-5320       to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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