A WHILE ago, I came across a small news story that dealt with a breakthrough regarding weeds.
Weeds are bad. What is good about weeds? Nothing! What is the worst aspect of weeds? Their growth rate is extremely rapid. That is how weeds destroy entire gardens.
However, with genetic engineering, scientists were able to isolate the fast-growth gene and insert it into desirable crops. The result was a sharp increase in the harvest of “positive” crops by hundreds of percentage points.
Thus, instead of simply weeding out “bad weeds” both physically and metaphorically, “the good idea within the bad idea” was discovered and applied, trailblazing a path to increased crops for the benefit of all.
In today’s world, where everybody knows everything and nothing is new and where everyone uses the same management and marketing methods learned in similar universities, the struggle is for an idea that can be turned into the world’s most expensive product.
Systematic creative thinking enables enhancement of ideas in a proven manner and therefore can be taught and internalised by individuals and organisations. Every person can become more creative if equipped with the appropriate tools.
The judo method
The marketing world connects sellers and buyers and requires fresh marketing strategies that are unprecendented, surprising and effective. These are the exact attributes required of systematic creative thinking.
The scientific breakthrough of weeds mentioned earlier describes the judo method of creative thinking. Its main thrust uses the power of the problem as the solution.
For example, the statement, “The 1970 Volkswagen will remain ugly for a long time”, was used by the manufacturer to declare that the so-called ugliness of the car was its long-range integrity.
Once in a while, the wild rose of a great idea, growing amidst the thorns of bad ideas, is better than cultured roses with their familiar and expected traits.
A hacker may be a criminal or one who is hired for his data security skills. The polio virus is frightening in its destructive capabilities, but its weakened version is a powerful cure for a terrible illness.
Crisis or opportunity?
Turning a disadvantage into an advantage has been done in many ways. Deaf persons who are lip readers have been recruited to read the lips of enemy states’ leaders. Colour-blind persons were employed to decipher the grey tones of aerial photographs to differentiate between real structures and dummies during World War II.
The judo method also suggests creating a problem intentionally to create a disadvantage, which can later be turned into an advantage. For example, creating a shortage to increase the value of a supposedly rare product, showing long lines of customers and spreading rumours are all techniques familiar to public relations and advertising agencies.
The judo method enables solutions even in dire situations that companies often encounter, such as glitches in production and negative public image.
A well-known soap manufacturer in the United States faced a hitch in its production line, which created an air bubble that “froze” in the soap.
Consumer groups complained they were being sold air rather than soap. The company could have chosen to apologise, launch a full-blown PR campaign or contribute to community charities. Instead, they raised the price of the soap and announced a brand new product development — “floating soap”.
The solution to slippery soap disappearing into the depths of the bathtub arose out of a technical error and became a huge success. Creativity is akin to unconventional weapons, for having an advantage in the tough battle over hardboiled opponents and the consumer’s heart.
Creative thinking is not superior to regular thinking, but allows for more alternatives once other options are spent. It was once relegated to the psychiatrist’s couch — “the idea is crazy” or “the inventor is mad”. But in reality, systematic creative thinking is another part of the great body of logic at people’s disposal. It helps people to achieve relevant and quantitative results.
Creative thinking teaches people to turn any disadvantage into an advantage and solve a problem using the problem’s complex components. It is like the rabbi’s response to his student: “Your question will provide” which means that the answer is within the question.
You only need to know how to search, find, embed and apply. The creative competition is not between Leonardo Da Vinci and Picasso; the competition exists within every person. In the competition within yourself, you are the only winner.
Through magic, games, intellectual provocation, humour and a child’s way of thinking — which examines reality with no prejudice or preconceptions — creative thinking reaches a serious, qualitative, quantitative output which can contribute to your pockets, your hearts, your brains, your organisations and to other people.
Article by Yarin Kimor, a leading speaker in Israel who specialises in creative thinking. He authored the book The Impossible Is Possible and developed and wrote the kit Think Outside Of The Box.