How many times do you hear that rather dog-eared expression:
“Thinking outside the box”?
Or, an even duller one:
“Blue Sky Thinking”?
Loads and loads and l-o-a-d-s.
And then what happens ……. [ ] …….a big fat nothing!
That seems a bit harsh, surely, but, think about it. When was the last time in life, business, family, social or not for profit, you could honestly say that someone came up with a totally off the wall thought, idea, musing, rant or utterance that was stratospherically off beat and, more fundamentally, it was acted on? Tinkering we see – we see loads of that. Re-invention (no that’s more of the same with a different badge – a 5-year-old wearing a 6-year-old badge) but how often do you see genuine, mind-bending imagination?
I subscribe to loads of material around my key areas of interest: personal development, business excellence, sales and marketing and professional service firm management (ooh that word still grates on me – managing what?) but all I seem to get is so much more of the same.
Think of a model – Airfix or a similar type. Now wouldn’t it be cool if someone out there invented a programme that wasn’t über expensive that enabled you to build a 3D model – a nice 356 Porsche in my case – then get inside it and drive it as if you were Steve McQueen (now there’s a cool dude) in your favourite film (Bullit). Now if you have got this far some of you may be shouting that that already exists! Well great. I’ll be first in the queue but the point I am making is that having lived through the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s why can’t I think of more than a handful of genuinely creative ideas or people who have pushed the envelope past breaking point (and don’t just think of the IT sector – that would be a cop out)?
I understand the economic dynamic, the lack of finance, the lack of skills etc etc but with the web making a bigger impact on our lives (it creeps up sometimes without us even noticing it), now surely is the time for creative brilliance.
The main point for me is that if people, business, not for profit and community groups really want to stand out and be noticed, add value or lead a tribe, whatever their ration detre is, then for heaven’s sake stop thinking about what you did in the past – good, bad or indifferent – and just think what will bring alive your idea in the most revelatory way possible. If the idea seems completely mad then so much the better. Plant your feet 10 years hence and just re-imagine.
As a very simply point, who would have thought 50 years ago that we would all have mobile phones that were capable of doing nearly everything: 101 calls, video, book reading, Twitter, Facebook, map reading etc etc (I wish someone would invent a programme to do the damn DIY!).
It reminds me of the sketch of Bob Newhart, the comedian, when he has a mock telephone conversation with Sir Walter Raleigh (“Walt”).
“You bought 80 tonnes of leaves. This may come as a surprise but here in the fall we are up to our neck in leaves. Snuff Walt. What’s snuff? A pinch of tobacco and you shove it up your nose and it makes you sneeze. I imagine it would Walt. Or you can shred it up and put in a piece of paper and you can roll it up … don’t tell me Walt … you stick it in your ear Walt. No, no you stick it between your lips. You set fire to it Walt! You inhale the smoke. You could stand in front of your fireplace and do the same thing. You will have a tough time selling burning leaves Walt.”
Well tobacco certainly caught on but I think you get the drift of the sketch.
So, next time you come up an idea that seems completely wacky don’t be shouted down or worst still laughed at. Stick to your guns and who knows you might just discover the next super-product or service delivery that will revolutionise the way we do something.