Creativity | The Brainzooming Group - Part 133 – page 133
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There’s been perhaps no greater disruptive force to come on the scene in the past 20 years than Bart Simpson. And in a business environment where disruptive strategy might be the only thing you can do to gain a near term advantage, couldn’t we all learn a thing or two if Bart were the Chief Strategy Officer at our company.

So as a result, let’s kick Bart upstairs and see how disrupting life in Springfield can be applied to disrupting competitors and markets. Try to generate at least 3 new competitive strategy possibilities from each approach Bart employs:

  • Having an “in your face” attitude
  • Not being restricted by respect for authority
  • Displaying a very sharp wit
  • Showing some signs of good behavior and character
  • Using a healthy dose of street smarts
  • Making friends with less popular people
  • Devising elaborate and complex pranks
  • Continually getting into something
  • Playing jokes on people over the phone
  • Mooning people
  • Displaying some unexpected talents
  • Becoming easily distracted from the task at hand
  • Using an alias to hide his part in creating mayhem
  • Reveling in his mischief and rebellion

One caution: using Bart Simpson in the Change Your Character creative thinking exercise will lead to ideas that could be illegal, immoral, or create such bad PR that you’d never pursue them. Yet, those possibilities may have the seeds of really great strategy. Use the Shrimp exercise discussed in a previous post to turn outlandish Simpsonesque ideas into more practical ones.

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown

 

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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.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I was saying the “Hail Mary” aloud with a relatively new convert to Catholicism. It’s a common prayer among Catholics that asks for the intercession of Mary. The prayer ends with the line, “pray for us sinners NOW AND AT the hour of (our) death.” This particular part was added in the mid 1500’s.

We had just finished the prayer when she announced, “That’s not how I say it.”

For whatever reason, when learning the prayer through hearing it, she understood the final line as, “pray for us sinners, NOW UNTIL the hour of (our) death.” While I shared the “correct” words (which she subsequently verified in a prayer book because she didn’t believe me), on the surface, her wording is much more comforting. Having someone pray for you from “now until,” adds up to a lot more praying on your behalf than “now and at” which, strictly defined, translates into two prayers.

So here’s an interesting situation – every Catholic for the past 450 years has learned a common prayer one way, but a single person, through a misunderstanding, has created a unique version that seems better than the original.

Not sure what to do about this (especially since we missed getting this information to the Pope when he was in the U.S. recently), other than to offer this suggestion: just because something has stood the test of time doesn’t mean that a fortunate mistake couldn’t improve it.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Last weekend, I finished the first large painting I’ve done in more than a decade. This was prompted by the prospect of losing a cool Howard Finster print that’s been in my office for years at work. I learned of the possibility on a Friday and by Saturday night, I’d purchased a canvas, new paints and brushes, and was gridding out a Peanuts cartoon to do a painting in Tom Everhart’s style.

While painting, I thought about the very productive bursts of artistic creativity followed by long droughts that have marked my life. I’ve always attributed the periods to major life changes (going to grad school, getting married, buying a house), but it doesn’t explain other creative periods, i.e. a tremendous output early in high school and doing a lot of cartooning the past few years – much of it on paper table cloths in Italian restaurants!

It struck me finally that the creative bursts were explained by bare walls – what triggered the output was the need to fill empty space. In each case, I’d moved into a new space with walls needing to be decorated. Some walls have been physical; others have been non-traditional – refrigerators, presentations, blogs. In each case, once the “walls” have been filled, my artistic spark has vanished.

Interestingly, the spark doesn’t come back when a previously bare wall becomes empty again. There’s a big bare area over our mantel where one of my paintings used to hang, yet there’s no inspiration to fill this empty space yet again.

My lesson from all this is that there are different types of creativity patterns. I appear to be a “utilitarian creative.” I don’t ooze artistic creativity all the time as many do. Instead, my creative juices get going only when there’s a clear need and application for the output. So in the future, when I hit a creative block, I’ll just have to find new bare walls to fill.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I visited The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last week after many trips through Cleveland the past four and a half years. Amid some cool rock history artifacts, the music and videos at The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame stood out as the museum’s most engaging aspects compared to the static exhibits – not surprising since rock music has never been about peace, quiet, and tranquility.

Of all the video clips, the one that gave me unbelievable chills was a snippet from an induction ceremony concert. It was a performance of “My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Here was a non-Lennon-McCartney Beatles song written by George Harrison performed by Tom Petty with Prince doing the incredible guitar solo originally created by Eric Clapton.

Prince owns the second half of the song, taking the solo away from Clapton just as Clapton has done so many times to other performers. And at the end, he throws his guitar in the air, smugly walking off stage because he knows exactly what he just did.

There is incredible power in creative diversity.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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When brainstorming, we talk about not censoring new ideas and reserving judgment until specific periods where evaluations are being made. Not all censorship is blatant; often, it is much more subtle.

When you’re trying to get a group to actively participate and share new ideas, be on the lookout for these subtle forms of censorship:

  • Laughter when there hasn’t been any.
  • Silence where there hasn’t been any.
  • Visible disinterest from senior group members.
  • Participants physically or virtually removing themselves from the process.
  • Over-sharing knowledge that monopolizes the discussion or overwhelms others’ abilities to contribute.
  • A senior person arriving late and expecting to be caught up as the group waits.

If you see any of these behaviors going on, it’s likely that participants are getting the message that there’s less than genuine interest in the fruits of their efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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When you are suffering from a creative block, almost any forward creative progress is positive, no matter how small. It is even better when your progress can be turned into something tangible, i.e. an artifact.

An artifact can take any of a variety of forms including a word, a sentence, an image, an outline, a chart or graph, a good article you’ve found, etc. Anything that provides you with a jumping off point for further creative block busting ideas is valuable.

One of my strategic mentors, Bill McDonald, taught me this concept when we’d get bogged down on a strategy project. Often the artifact was simply creating an outline for a business plan or completing a small section of a report. This piece of the ultimate creative output would be enough to provide a sense of progress and rally our enthusiasm to keep plugging away.

It was always surprising how simply have something to see was enough to trigger a second creative wind on project after project.

The next time you hit a creative block, try to lower your expectations, look for a small something that is more achievable than the whole creative project (maybe even something already sitting in the creative trash heap as trash), create it, and use it as your first step to bust your creative block and get to the next step! – Mike Brown

To tap into your own extreme creativity, download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational creativity 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Baseball scouts review many talented players, narrowing prospects through successfully anticipating which have the talent to perform at the highest levels of the game.

You can benefit from generalizing their selection criteria in the “Change Your Character” exercise to strengthen the prospect assessment criteria that you’re called on to perform in your job. Your prospects may be employees, customers, vendors, or other parties in business. Baseball scouts look for the following types of characteristics in their best prospects:

  • Have strong interest in success
  • Are always aware of what’s going on and what the right thing to do next is
  • Are dedicated and loyal
  • Are easy to be around and are strong influencers
  • Can make things happen & produce consistently
  • Have the skills to turn apparent failure into success
  • Field whatever comes their way
  • Never give up
  • Will follow through and give everything they have

Next time you have to develop criteria to assess prospects, identify three new ideas from those used by baseball scouts.

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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