Tag: insight

Which way does your banana bend?

Which way does your banana bend? I often ask this question (even in polite conversation) and receive a blank stare from the recipient. The inference is, of course, that bananas do not bend in any particular direction. They are neither left nor right handed, erect or droopy, they just bend. Try grabbing a banana and placing it in front of you on table. Does it bend to the left or the right? Now turn it over, you should find that it now bends in the opposite direction.

Alas you do not have magic powers of banana bend reversal, but you have just demonstrated one of the most important characteristics of solving problems. You sometimes need the ability to look at a problem from a new perspective or just turn it on its head. I recently painted the outside walls of my house and was not looking forward to balancing precariously at the top of a ladder. It would have taken a long time to paint such a large area. But why not stay on the ground and take the paint roller up to the top of the walls? After a search in my local DIY store I found a suitable extending 5m pole and attachments that fitted to the top. I reckon that it took half the time it would have taken at the top of the ladder.

So next time you are faced with an issue, avoid rushing into the task (unless it really is that simple) and think about what you really want. In my case putting paint (relatively neatly) onto the walls of my house. I could stand anywhere as long as I could control paint delivery. Turn the problem on its head or try looking at it from a different (or different person’s) point of view.

A new building in France has a steep sloping roof covered in grass. The problem? How on earth to cut it. You could imagine all sorts of elegant engineering or bio engineering solutions but the solution used was to use hover mowers suspended on ropes from above.

Then of course, we also have that wonderful story of writing in space. The American solution? Develop a hugely expensive zero gravity biro. The Russian solution? Use a pencil!

So the next time you have a problem banana, try taking a look at it from all possible angles.

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When is Creativity not creative?

When is Creativity not creative? There have been (and there will continue to be) debates about what exactly is creativity and what it means to be creative. I remember having a discussion with some artists about being creative. Being artistic, they naturally thought of themselves as creative and were seen in a similar way by the general public. To be fair, their methods and output was, to say the least, alternative but I posed them the question “If you use the same method for each piece of art work you produce, are you being creative even if the output changes?”

There is no real answer to that question, or rather there are billions of answers depending on who you ask. The reason is frame of reference. Creativity depends on who and where you are and possibly what has gone before, it is relative. One man’s creativity is another’s drudgery. What might be seen as creative in one business will be viewed as ‘old hat’ in another

So I might see someone else’s ideas and methods as mundane because I have seen it, done it and bought the T shirt. Does this mean that I have to keep pushing the boundaries? Again there are many possible answers. If you simply require new product ideas and have a perfectly good ‘creative’ technique to use which does create new product ideas then keep using it. Pushing the boundaries would simply waste time and could be considered frivolous. If, however it was your job to create new idea generation methods for your business then you would almost be duty bound to experiment wouldn’t you?

Then we also have the issue of whether it is the method or result that is classed as creative. In this case I suggest that it is terminology that is the issue. In business, it is an alternate way of thinking that matters, to be used to gain a different perspective or insight or to generate new ideas.

So to answer the original question, creativity may not be creative if you are observing someone else or if you are using the same method and not generating different results. Other than that, creativity is generally creative, but I’m sure readers will have a different opinion!

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