Creative Solutions Don’t Need to be Complex

Last weekend, I was walking through the living room and saw my son staring at the TV.  Mouth open.  Glossy-eyed.  Like it was a bug zapper.

What amazed me was the subject matter that had caught his attention.  It wasn’t an action movie or a funny home video compilation showing people who get smacked in the face by rake handles or inadvertently lose their pants at a wedding reception.

It was an infomercial.

“Dad.  You need one of those.”

The product being advertised was a wallet made out of metal.  Virtually indestructible.

“See dad?  You can run over it with a giant truck or drop it in a toilet and nothing happens to it.  Good as new!”

I searched my memory and couldn’t recall a single time where I had accidentally dropped my wallet while performing stunts at a monster truck rally, or in the public restroom stall at intermission.  This was not a product I needed.  But they’ve still sold over 5 million of these things.

“Why didn’t I think of that?”

We often times think that creative geniuses just stumble upon popular product ideas, dreaming them up out of thin air.  But inspiration isn’t accidental.  Take the story of the EXO Shelter, a genius product that could revolutionize the way the world responds to natural disasters.  The designer of the product says the idea emerged from looking at a disposable coffee cup.  See the video here.

Notice in the video that breakthrough thinking isn’t accidental.  Creativity and innovation requires the following:

  1. A Well-Defined Problem:   McDaniel defined the problem as a need for quality, low cost shelters that could be erected quickly and efficiently.  Once the objective was clear, inspiration came via…
  2. An Open Mind:  McDaniel didn’t focus on the “shelter” part of his objective.  Instead, he opened his mind to look for any examples of things in his environment that were low cost, quick and efficient.  That’s when the coffee cup spoke to him.  But he still needed… 
  3. An Appetite for Risk and Rework:  It’s easy to dismiss new ideas.  Vetting the EXO Shelter required an investment of time and an expectation that perfection is never achieved on the first try.  If the idea has a strong probability of meeting your criteria, it’s worth investigating.

For the past 35 years, we have helped clients achieve breakthroughs using the methods described above.  Our proven processes help speed the development of ideas to creatively tackle the most challenging problems.  If you are looking for your own “Coffee Cup Moment”, give us a call at (800) 386-5611. We’d love to chat.








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