In our blog post Daily Thinking – Discovering Patterns we showed some alarming daily thinking habits, like assuming that there is a linear, unambiguously relation between a cause and an effect. For example, it is assumed that increasing e-commerce will reduce traffic. People will less … Continue reading
Recently we were thinking about the news. What makes news? Then there is the discussion about fake news. At Wikipedia we found a page that is about Fake news websites: “Fake news websites (also referred to as hoax news, deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news — often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect.Unlike news satire, fake news websites seek to mislead, rather than entertain, readers for financial, political, or other gain”.
But what about news that is “left out“, as we formulated in one of our blog posts?
“One can safely assume that any information you are presented with has some relevant information “Left Out”. The originator’s perspective, the logic bubble in which he perceives the world and how the information is applied are some possible reasons for the missing information”.
We can also safely assume that editors of media do “leave-out” news, in good faith. However, there could be some doubt about, as Naomi Chomsky pointed out in “Manufacturing Consent“:
“The mass communication media of the U.S. are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalised assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion”
That raises the question if there exists a keyword “Not News” in Google. Could we find “left-out”news in Google? We got only one hit:
Project Censored – The News That Didn’t Make The News and Why is a well researched website featuring the Top Censored Stories of 2015–2016: Covering up police violence by manipulation Wikipedia pages, violations of the Freedom of Information Act, compensations for vaccine injured families, big pharma lobbying, internet surveillance, FBI spying on rebellion at high schools, and lots of other disturbing news not mentioned in the mainstream media.
Admittedly, it’s all in America, but would it be different elsewhere? We earlier described the mechanisms that explain why disturbing news is not published by the mean stream media (See Press Patterns).
By the way, in addition to “Manufacturing Consent”, we came across an interesting essay about “Manufacturing Normality”. Nowadays political dissent is stigmatised as aberrant or “abnormal” behaviour, as opposed to a position meriting discussion. Political distinctions like “left” and “right” are disappearing, and are being replaced by imponderable distinctions like “normal” and “abnormal,” “true” and “false,” and “real” and “fake.”.
Classical marketing campaigns are mostly massive in nature, like the Napoleonic Wars. By using brute force and heavenly leaning on resources (people, money, gun power, logistics, management skills) they ty to win. Basically, both parties are in the same game, each trying to use better but more-of-the-same tactics.
An alternative for the not so powerful is to turn to guerrilla warfare. Poor but highly dedicated small teams use asymmetric tactics to surprise and confuse the enemy, thereby using maximal creativity.
But what is creative thinking?
Creative thinking is not doing more-of-the-same
(in the example: applying straight lines), but breaking away from that, for instance by using curved or broken lines.
However, it is not easy to break away from standard patterns.
Also, any time we break a standard way of thinking, a behaviour or new idea, bystanders will react with a rejection: this is impossible, it can’t work, it is too costly, complex, difficult or risky. Every time a negative is used, the thinking stops.
Creative marketing is escaping from the standard approaches that are used by big companies. But how to get new ideas?
Normally we think with the speed of light to the first satisfying idea
By that, we miss interesting alternatives along the way
With a Provocative Operation we break away from mainstream thinking. The Provocative Operation (moving outside the mainstream to the green spot) is a attempt to escape standard thinking in order to arrive at an original idea.
For instance: Apple sells our (paper)notebook together with their notebooks.
We will discuss four creative thinking techniques to escape standard thinking:
- Taken for Granted
- The Provocation
- Use Resources
Taken for Granted
Make a list of taken for granted things of a product, at least 15. That is what is normal, assumed to be, standard, generally accepted or obvious. Then we escape by abandon it or modify it.
It is taken for granted that a restaurant has a venue and that the guests are dressed.
A restaurant does not have a venue. That could lead to the idea to set up a picnic service for romantic people.
Guests are naked. That could lead to the idea of a nudist restaurant.
To get creative marketing ideas about for instance an Eco bottle. What is obvious of a bottle (form, materials, filling, getting it, getting rid of it, etc.). Then modify (remove, amplify, change, combine, etc).
Try to escape negatives by redefining criticism by “this is interesting” and “under what circumstances might this have value”, or “could we create value out of this?”. The aim of the Provocation is to move forward the thinking towards an idea that works.
Sandwiches will make themselves
Senor citizens, refugees and children donate by age for using supporting services.
We tend to solve problems by using known and standard solutions. For instance: for attaching something to the ceiling we automatically think of a ladder. But only after we give ourselves the explicit thinking order to use what is at hand, we come up with alternatives: using tables, making a tower of bodies, using the walls, making a long pole.
This creativity technique is also called: think inside the box, meaning no adding additional resources
Make a list of props (things) and persons in your immediate surroundings. Think up in what ways they could contribute or add value.
A petrol company wanted to create more brand loyalty. That is not simple, for most drivers petrol is just petrol. One of the company’s resources is the car driver. By getting under the skin of the driver, they discovered that getting a parking place in town is an important value for the customer. So they set up a cooperation with parking garages. For the drivers, the petrol company and the parking garage a win-win situation. Together they delivered an integrated value.
Could we design integrated values for the customers of a fruit selling shop?
Defining the thinking task before beginning an idea generation session is one of the most neglected stages.
Most starting questions are far too broad defined. For instance. In What Ways Might We (IWWMW) get more clients.
However, it is more helpful to break it down into smaller topics, as “IWWMW add more value to our product”,“IWWMW get more clients with help of our existing clients”, “IWWMW use other product to sell ours. Redefine at least 15 IWWMW’s in order to escape from the obvious ones and get a really creative challenge.
Avoid formulating IWWMW’s becoming too small. In that case, the IWWMW will just be a concrete solution and will not give you any direction for further searching new ideas.
Then make the challenge less boring and sexier. That is: make them more imaginative, outreaching, challenging, interesting. For instance: sex up “IWWMW get more clients by using our existing clients”.“Our clients collect so much organic waste that we have to export it”.
Then add a constraint: people, money, time, channels.
Finally construct a propelling question, a question that drives forward the effort for creative thinking by using a bold ambition and a significant restriction. For instance: “let’s get 50 more clients by firing all account managers”.
Again, the technique of the creative focus is to force oneself outside common thinking. The technique on the focus can be applied to all of the four of the marketing mix:
- functionality, packing and service of the Product
- policies about paying and Price
- sales, advertisements, Publicity
- and Promotion logistics, storage, inventory and selling channels
Creative Marketing is all about standing out of your competitors, being perceived as a Blue Fish, at no costs.
According to Oxford University, 47% of jobs will disappear in the next 25 years. Could you think up which ones?
Take any profession (doctor, mechanic, teacher, nurse, etc) and/or any branch (consumer products, construction, finance, retail) and confront it in a matrix, one for one, with
- Artificial Intelligence
- Cloud based apps
- Blockchain technology
- 3D printers
- Virtual reality
Could you imagine what jobs will disappear as a result of (a combination) of new technologies?
If you take as working hypothesis that all intermediary jobs (bank employees, notaries, tax officers) will disappear, what jobs will likely cease to exist by 2040?
Why not check out the blog post The DIY of the Future for inspiration?
Here a sequel to How to Get a More Beautiful Question?
Defining the thinking task before beginning an idea generation session is one of the most neglected stages.
Most starting questions are far too broad defined. For instance. “In What Ways Might We (IWWMW) get more clients?”. It is more helpful to break it down in smaller topics, as in
- “IWWMW add more value to our product”
- “IWWMW get more clients with help of our existing clients”
- “IWWMW use other product to sell ours”
Design at least 15 IWWMW’s by redefine the initial one in order to escape from the obvious and get a really creative challenge.
Avoid formulating IWWMW’s becoming too small. In that case the IWWMW will just be a concrete solution and will not give you a direction for further searching new ideas.
Then make the challenge less boring and more sexy. That is: make them more imaginative, outreaching, challenging, interesting. For instance: sex up “IWWMW get more clients by using our existing clients” into “our clients collect so much organic waste that we have to export it”.
Follow up by adding a constraint: people, money, time, channels.
Finally, construct a propelling question that has a contradiction in it.
A propelling question is one that drives forward the effort for creative thinking by using a bold ambition and a significant restriction. For instance: “let’s get 50 more clients by firing all account managers”.
The technique of the creative focus is to force oneself outside common thinking, already before the creative thinking session actually get started.
In an earlier post about focus, we stressed the importance of paying attention to the focus of the thinking. Taking a problem or challenge unquestioned as it exposes itself may lead to brilliant solutions for the wrong problem. It is therefore required to pay substantial time and effort to (re)define the focus of the thinking.
The problem of attention is best illustrated by the figure-ground phenomenon: it is known as identifying a figure from the background. For example, you see words on a printed paper as the “figure” and the white sheet as the “background”. However, it is possible to define the white sheet as the “figure”and the “background” as the printed words. Some examples of figure–ground perception shift are:
Figure–ground perception can be expanded from visual perception to include abstract (i.e. non-visual) concepts such as melody/harmony, subject/background, and positive/negative space. The concept of figure and ground fully depends on the observer and not on the item itself.
In art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space occasionally is used to artistic effect as the “real” subject of an image. It is called Negative Space. The Japanese word “Ma” is sometimes used for this concept, for example, in garden design.
We will take the figure-ground reversal a little bit further. Normally, we strive for perfection– broadly, a state of completeness and flawlessness. We value strength, beauty, completeness, velocity, winning etc. Let’s shift focus to the negative face. What is the beauty of imperfection? Amazingly, there is no such page in Wikipedia neither in the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Ripping or distressing of jeans, though also arising naturally as a result of wear and tear, is sometimes deliberately performed by suppliers – with distressed clothing sometimes selling for more than a non-distressed pair. For example, Pucci sold “embellished mid-rise boyfriend jeans” for $860 USD. In other times it would be a sign of poverty.
The Golden Raspberry Awards is an award ceremony in recognition of the worst in a film. Most winners do not attend the ceremony to collect their awards. Notable exceptions include Tom Green (Worst Actor/Worst Director), Halle Berry and Sandra Bullock (Worst Actress), Michael Ferris, Joe Eszterhas (Worst Screenplay), and Paul Verhoeven (Worst Director)
“The Bad Hemingway Contest” is an annual writing competition that has been held for nearly thirty years, the contest pays mock homage to Ernest Hemingway by encouraging authors to submit a ‘really good page of really bad Hemingway’. Also to mention the “Hemmingway Look-alike Society”, a bunch of “portly gray-bearded old men.”: not being unique is the pursue, but striving for the likeness of someone else is worth pursuing.
It is all about perception shift. A shift from looking for perfection to valuing imperfection. In Japan, it is called Wabi-sabi, the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”
What about the 25 inventions that are completely pointless, as a Car Exhaust Grill or a sadomasochistic tea kettle?
Leaning towers seem to attract a lot more visitors than towers standing upright.
A choir for people who cannot sing and are tone deaf was started by Nadine Cooper, 48, who wanted to join a singing group but never had the courage because she was aware she could not stay in tune. Her self-consciousness started when she was a child after a music teacher ordered her to keep her mouth shut because of her awful singing.A tuneless choir for those who . . .well can’t sing: Listen, this bunch is really hair-raising the roof!
What can innovators learn from art?
Observation skills, questioning, and experimentation are vital parts of innovation. Observing everyday activities can lead to new insights where things can be improved on. It can also lead to break-through ideas.
The innovation psychologist Leon Segal said:
“Innovation begins with an eye.”
Innovators carefully watch the world around them and the observations help them gain ideas for new ways of doing things. Observation skills are also at the core of art. Art students are often told to draw what they actually look at, rather than the way they think something should look. Copying someone’s ideas will not in itself lead to a person developing creative thinking skills. A painter needs to learn to think in colours, an artist working with sculptures need to think in 3D, and a songwriter needs to learn to think in lyrics.
Art is sometimes used to help medical students to develop their observations skills. Looking at art can help people understand ambiguities in a painting and also to look closely at something without “rushing to assign meaning to what we see.” Many of us are ready to immediately interpret what we see, yet looking at art can help a person to slow down and really observe things without immediately interpreting things. These skills can also help an innovator to explore aspects and to help step out of the common way of interpreting things. Quick thinking is good sometimes but certain things are good to slowly digest.
Even if looking at art can help a person to develop observation skills the observation in itself is not enough. Making connections, questioning, visualising, and searching for patterns are also important aspects of art. Art can help a person to make connections between things. innovators often have a passion for questioning things. The importance of question asking is a topic that has been previously explored in this blog. Valuing questions and being curious can lead to a search for new ways of doing things. Rather than focusing on quick answers, the innovative process thrives on asking questions to provoke new insights, possibilities and connections.
The book The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction is a wonderful collection of Neil Gaiman’s essays, and meditations on life, literature, and the life and love of literature. An inspiring essay in the book explores the ideas and ideals at the heart of Bradbury’s classic book Fahrenheit 451. This book is a great reminder of how important it is to explore one’s values. Neil suggests that speculative fiction gives us a “liberation of vision”. Yet in order for this to happen, we must acknowledge that each story has a multiplicity of meanings.
Authors can offer an imagined but nevertheless persuasive alternative reality where the readers are offered a way to escape from the usual traditional way of thinking. New possibilities can be examined. It is easy to think that the way we live now is somehow the only way that the world can be organised.
Three questions can help an author to imagine possible worlds:
- What if …? This question provides a way to escape from the world. What if I could fold up my car?
- If only … Allows us explore something exciting as well as the terrifying about the future. If only there were no cars.
- If this goes on … What would happen if that thing became bigger, became all-pervasive? Does not try to predict the future rather explores possible scenarios. If this way of parking cars goes on there will be no green spaces left in the cities.
Innovators are examining and trying out new ideas. Testing hypothesis and visiting new places and worlds. Imagining different futures is a fundamental aspect of the innovative process and reading books about the future can provide valuable insights. It can also help us develop skills to examine possible futures. A world that does not yet exist!
Photo: Kevin Krejci