In June Lexus introduced a hoverboard that actually worked.
It was a great way of highlighting the Lexus philosophy of "There is no such thing as impossible, it is just a matter of figuring out how."
It's not selling a car, it's selling a way of thinking. The innovation and effort they've put in to making the hoverboard a reality reflects on the attention to detail they put into making their cars. As they say on their website:
"Like all Lexus design, the board's design features a balance of crafted details, modern materials and technical innovation. Inspired by classic skateboarding and Lexus design principles, the result is the perfect balance of the natural and high tech."
This for me, is a great example of brand story, and I'm sure the 15 million people who've viewed the video online would agree.
HOWEVER......they've missed a trick. A huge trick.
Yesterday, October 21st 2015, was the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown have their first experience of the hoverboard in Back To The Future Part 2.
There has been a vast amount of press, TV coverage and events organised to mark this day.
Just imagine if Lexus had launched their hoverboard yesterday instead of four months ago, it wouldn't have been big news it would have been huge!
By Neil Pavitt and Menno Van Dijk (Thnk school of creative leadership)
Not knowing when you are going to get that breakthrough idea is what makes creativity equally magical and frustrating. Bringing yourself closer to creating something innovative and useful requires the cooperation between two contrasting states: controlled and uncontrolled thinking.
To create this synergy, you need to begin by being like a sponge and soaking up as much relevant information as possible. The more information you have, the more interesting and original connections you’re likely to make later on.
Once you feel like you’ve got all the information you need, you can start coming up with ideas. The Nobel Prize winning chemist Linus Pauling once said, “If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas. Most of them will be wrong, and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away.” If you find yourself worrying that it is hard to tell between the bad ones and the good ones, don’t worry: you are still warming up and your best ideas have yet to come. Don’t be too judgemental about the first batch.
Maybe you’ll feel that your ideas are all too incremental and too “in the box.” In that case, there are several techniques you can use to push your thinking – we call them Boxbreakers.
As your mind works hard to find that big innovative idea, you will reach a point where you feel you’ve hit a brick wall and you can’t think of anything else. This is when self-doubt and defeat can often creep in. You feel that your ideas will never crystallize. What’s really happening is you’re entering what’s commonly known as the incubation stage.
THE UNCONSCIOUS MIND
During this entire process of gathering information and thinking of ideas, you have also been feeding your unconscious. If your unconscious mind sees that the conscious mind is determined and passionate about finding a creative breakthrough, it will deem it worthy of putting its processing power behind it. It’s important to remember that your unconscious will assume the subject is not worth it if the hard conscious work has not been put in.
There’s one good reason why you want your unconscious involved. It processes data 500,000 times faster than your conscious mind.
As John Cleese rationalized, “This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: if you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.”
What’s important at this stage is not to get too stressed. You’re entering the uncontrolled part of the process and this is where you have to be patient. Of course, you shouldn’t totally zone out doing something mindless, such as watching TV or checking up on Facebook. It’s like a pot left to simmer: you don’t need to stand over watching it, but at the same time you can’t go out and leave it unattended.
The writer Hilary Mantel advised to remain patient: “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, and exercise. Whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party- if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space.”
The feeling is similar to being stuck on a crossword puzzle clue. You’re sure you know the answer and it’s on the tip of your tongue, but you just can’t think of what it is. Frustrated, you give up and go and make a cup of coffee. Just as you’re stirring the coffee, the answer comes to you as if from nowhere. It really doesn’t feel like you’ve thought it at all. It’s a gift from your unconscious.
The moment of insight to your problem will often come when you are doing a mundane and repetitive activity. How often have you heard people say, “I get my best ideas when I’m walking or driving home from work/ having a shower/ doing the dishes”? There’s a reason for this: while you’re doing these simple activities, your controlled thinking takes its foot off the gas, making room for your uncontrolled thinking and allowing your mind to wander.
FINDING YOUR DEFAULT MODE
We have two modes of thinking: the first is the cognitive control network, which creates focused, controlled thinking. At the heart of this is the prefrontal cortex, the home of most of our conscious thoughts. The second is the default mode network. This is linked with mind wandering, (day) dreaming, free association, and linking to messages from the unconscious.
The default mode network (uncontrolled thought) is triggered when the prefrontal cortex shuts down or relaxes. The most obvious example of this is dreams. When we are asleep, so is our prefrontal cortex.
Dreams have helped people find solutions to problems in the arts, science, and business. A dream gave Mary Shelley the idea for Frankenstein, Paul McCartney the music for “Yesterday”, August Kekule the shape of the Benzene molecule, Elias Howe how a sewing machine would work, and Larry Page dreamt of downloading the entire Web. Not satisfied with this achievement, Page also had the idea for the Google PageRank by dreaming of the links between the pages.
Unfortunately, we risk not capturing the ideas when we come up with creative solutions in our dreams. Being half-asleep relaxes the control of the prefrontal cortex, allowing us access to the uncontrolled power of the default mode network while still being aware enough to capture what emerges.
Hypnagogia is the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. Both states –which occur in the early morning stages of not being fully awake yet and the last moment at night when you are about to drop off to sleep– are both strong times for interesting ideas to arise. Edison famously tried to tap into this “Twilight Zone” with metal balls: he would sit upright in a chair and take a nap while holding a large metal ball in each hand. Once asleep, the balls would drop out of his hands and startle him awake, and he would immediately write down what was in his mind at the time.
ACTIVITIES FOR THE INACTIVE
Research has shown that a tired mind is often a more creative mind. It may sound counter-intuitive, but early birds should try solving problems late at night, while night owls should attempt to come up with solutions early in the morning.
Activities that help the prefrontal cortex to relax can also have a very beneficial effect. This is why mundane activities are so good for triggering moments of creative insight, for instance while doing the dishes, walking, taking a shower, and driving home from work. Einstein would work hard on a problem for a couple of hours and then stop to play the violin. Playing a piece he knew well would require little conscious effort allowing his mind to wander and ideas to arise. By his account, “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition.”
Another powerful way to nurture creative thinking is by walking. Many of history’s great creatives knew this, including Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Lucian Freud, John Milton, and Charles Dickens and Darwin. Steve Jobs was famous for holding meetings while he was walking and Mark Zuckerberg is now following in his footsteps.
Dr. Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz, professors at Stanford University, have compared the levels of creativity in people while walking and sitting. Their research showed that their creative output increased by 60% when were walking.
GIVE PATIENCE A CHANCE
People are just as creative whether they walked inside on a treadmill or outside in the fresh air, so it’s not about the inspiring surroundings. The secret lies in the mundane physical activity that lets the prefrontal cortex take a back seat, letting mind wander.
It’s important to remember that these moments of insight won’t come if you haven’t previously put in the conscious effort into the subject. But if you have and you’re patient, you’ll be rewarded with a gift from your unconscious.
As the painter Joan Miró said, “I work better when I am not working than when I am.”
Here's an idea to tie in with Museum week.
Usually only about 10 to 20% of a museum/gallery's work is on display at any one time. But imagine if a museum put pictures of all the work it has online. Then allow the public to vote on what should be put on display.
An exhibition for the public curated by the public.
It's far more likely to create discussion about art when the people viewing the exhibition have been part of putting it together.
Imagine you’re in your own brain and you suddenly find a hidden door. You open that door and it leads to a dark, dusty corridor. You brush away the cobwebs and come to a rickety staircase leading to a little attic room. As you make your way slowly up the creaking staircase you can see golden light coming from underneath the attic door. You hear a child’s laughter coming from the room. You get to the top step and excitedly turn the door handle and……
So many books, blogs and articles talk about ‘finding your inner child’ or ‘unleashing you creativity’, as if there’s some secret ‘creative’ compartment in your brain waiting to be discovered.
It’s both wrong and dangerous. When people go looking for this source of creativity and can’t find it, they think they weren’t blessed with the gift of being creative.
A creative mind is made by being open and curious as well as being prepared to put in the hard work to find an answer to whatever problem you’re trying to solve.
Of course, there is a secret compartment that makes us creative, but it’s an area none of us can access: our unconscious mind. All we can do is feed it and wait for it to offer us its gems of wisdom.
You don’t unleash your creativity you create the conditions for creativity to happen.
The trouble with to-lists we don’t always complete them. We do half the list and then the rest gets transferred to the next day’s list.
A long to-do list means we’ve got a lot to do it doesn’t mean we do a lot.
At the end of each day, why not think about what you’ve achieved that day rather than what you’ve got to do tomorrow.
That’s why you need a ‘Done’ list.
The to-do list is about goals, Done Lists are about achievements.
Here’s my idea: buy a new diary, and at the end of every day write in it what you’ve achieved.
The important thing to remember is, this is just for you. You make the rules on what is worthy of going on your Done List. It could be business or personal, or it could be both. It could be winning a major piece of business, it could be spending an hour’s quality time with your child or it could just be finding some time to read a book.
What matters is; taking time at the end of every day to think about what has brought you satisfaction, then make a note of it.
At the end of the week or month or year, you can look back at your Done List diary and see what you’ve achieved.
They say ‘history will be the judge’. Now your history will be there for you to judge.
The brainstorm hasn’t really changed since it was first introduced in the 1950’s. A group of people get together to find a solution to a problem. They say whatever they want, however silly it may seem and any analytical judgement is reserved for later.
But recently there has been growing criticism of the brainstorm as a method for coming up with fresh and innovative ideas.
The problem is with the way brainstorms are used. They should only ever be part of the creative process. People spouting off the first thing that comes into their head, can reveal how imaginative they are, but it doesn’t show creativity.
All really great creative ideas require the involvement of the unconscious and a group can’t think unconsciously. This is where the ‘I’ in brainstorm comes in.
The brainstorm needs an individual element. One way of getting this is to have less people involved and longer brainstorms.
A perfect example is the writing/creative team. Television scriptwriters often work in teams of two, so do advertising creatives.
They’ll sit together all day trying to think of a great idea. Of course, they won’t be coming up with ideas all the time. But that’s what many people don’t realise; it’s those parts of the day when they get stuck and start to chat about rubbish or make endless cups of tea, that are an important parts of the creative process. That’s when your unconscious is getting to work on the problem.
I would split the creative process into five stages:
Stages 3 and 4 are the unconscious stages of the creative process and can only ever come out of one person’s head. But brainstorms can be of great value for the other stages.
Here’s how they can be used to great effect:
1. Information: To get great ideas don’t think about the solution, think about the problem. Everyone can bring as much information as they can regarding the problem. Pooling this information will make everyone’s ideas stronger. Give people time to think about the problem individually before getting back together as a group.
2. Imagination: Let people come up with as many ideas as they can without judging them. Now this is how the majority of brainstorms are used now. But the whole point of this stage is to feed the various individuals’ unconscious minds. Those crazy ideas should never be expected to be the solution. There just fodder for your unconscious to do its stuff.
5. Implementation: This is the final stage, when someone’s had a great idea, but it needs knocking into shape. This is when a supportive group can nuture the idea and make it as strong as it can be.
For better ideas, always make sure there's an ‘I’ in your brainstorm.