How to Unleash Your Creativity: For Profit & Gain

A seminar for you to free your inner creativity asnd apply it to the world around you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Guy Kawasaki on The Art of Innovation

Read the full article on Guy's blog. Well worth the journey. He elaborates on all of the points, and you will certainly come away enriched.
Guy writes:

I hold these truths to not be self-evident; hence we see so little innovation.

1. Jump to the next curve.
2. Don't worry, be crappy.
3. Churn, baby, churn.
4. Don't be afraid to polarize people.
5. Break down the barriers.
6. "Let a hundred flowers blossom."
7. Think digital, act analog.
8. Never ask people to do what you wouldn't do.
9. Don't let the bozos grind you down.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Guy Kawasaki answers this question: “What are the characteristics of a great product?”

This is taken verbatim from Guy Kawasaki's blog. It's a good component of the 'AIM' portion of my creativity model. When you're finished first-phase creating, you need to evaluate your ideas. Use Guy's thinking to see if you've got some more creating you still need to do...

“What are the characteristics of a great product?” Here is the answer.

Think: DICEE

* Deep. A great product is deep. It doesn’t run out of features and functionality after a few weeks of use. Its creators have anticipated what you’ll need once you come up to speed. As your demands get more sophisticated, you discover that you don’t need a different product.

* Indulgent. A great product is a luxury. It makes you feel special when you buy it. It’s not the least common denominator, cheapest solution in sight. It’s not necessarily flashy in a Ferrari kind of way, but deep down inside you know you’ve rewarded yourself when you buy a great product.

* Complete. A great product is more than a physical thing. Documentation counts. Customer service counts. Tech support counts. Consultants, OEMS, third-party developers, and VARS count. Blogs about it counts. A great product has a great total user experience—sometimes despite the company that produces it.

* Elegant. A great product has an elegant user interface. Things work the way you’d think they would. A great product doesn’t fight you—it enhances you. (For all of Microsoft’s great success this is why it’s hard to name a Microsoft product that you’d call “great.”) I could make the point that if you want to see if a company’s products are elegant, you need only look at its chairman’s presentations.

* Emotive. A great product incites you to action. It is so deep, indulgent, complete, and elegant that it compels you to tell other people about it. You’re not necessarily an employee or shareholder of the company that produces it. You’re bringing the good news to help others, not yourself.

Monday, January 02, 2006

My podcast review of Squidoo, as heard on SAfm, national radio in South Africa

Squidoo on the Radio
I reviewed Squidoo during a lunchtime radio show on SAfm, South Africa's national broadcaster. You can listen to a four-minute podcast of the story here. Or listen to all of the podcasts in the series at

Roy Blumenthal's Creativity Tips and Tricks: The Four Essential Steps to Creativity -- Ready, Fire, Aim, Action

Ready, Fire, Aim, Action

The four essential steps to creativity
My creativity thinking is a melange of many different influences. The kernel of my approach comes from Charles Thompson's great book, What a Great Idea!: The Key Steps Creative People Take.

Get ready. Get all of the information you need in your brain and on paper. Define the thing you're trying to be creative about. Give it a 'problem statement'. Be as specific as possible, so that you can get as much information as you need.

In this mode, you're thinking critically and analytically.

In fire mode, you switch off your critical and analytical thinking and go into freeflow mode. It's like you're a gun shooting haphazardly into the night, not caring where the bullets land. All you care about is the numer of bullets.

When I'm brainstorming, I like to get at least one hundred raw ideas down while I'm in 'fire' mode. And I don't care about the quality of those ideas. I just want loads of them as raw material for the next phase.

It's important in 'fire' mode to have fun. Loads of it. Smile a lot. Drink loads of water. Move around the room. I put brown paper on my walls, and scribble on the paper with fat marker pens.

3. AIM
In 'aim' mode, you go back to your critical, analytical thinking, while retaining a little of the freeflow of 'fire' mode.

Your goal here is to look at all the raw material you've produced in 'fire', and narrow things down.

You change the ideas, moulding them to your purposes.

And your purpose is for your ideas to fit the 'problem statement' you created in the beginning, when you were getting 'ready'.

I use a tool called SCAMPER, an acronym that nudges things into new patterns.

A friend's father once told me, 'There are many ideas in the world, but only a few opportunities.' His thesis was that if you don't act on ideas, they remain mere ideas.

For an idea to become an opportunity, you have to do two things. You have to recognise an idea as an opportunity. And then you have to act on it.

Taking action takes work. I like to create an action statement containing 3 or 4 goals (more becomes difficult to work with). And these goals all follow the 'SMART' acronym. They're Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.

Roy Blumenthal's Creativity Tips and Tricks: SCAMPER -- a Tool to Transform Ideas


A Tool To Transform Ideas
This tool comes from THINKERTOYS by Michael Michalko. (If you don't own this book, buy it immediately. It's the ONE essential creativity book for your shelf.)

When you've collected a bunch of ideas, or you're busy originating, this tool will help you create connections where you didn't have any before.

Apply liberally.

It's an acronym. The letters stand for:

S: Substitute, Simplify
C: Combine
A: Adapt
M: Modify, Magnify, Minify
P: Put to other uses
E: Eliminate
R: Reverse, Rearrange

Whatever the idea is you're working with, choose one of the letters and mangle the idea.

For instance, if your goal is to find a way to convert a building into a marketing opportunity, one of the ideas you might have come up with is, 'make it into a billboard'.

If we 'eliminate', we can remove the words from the 'billboard' idea, leaving behind a piece of art. A huge artwork.

If we 'put to other uses', we might get a building with context-sensitive information on it. A signboard of sorts.

And so on. You're limited by your own willingness to scrunch things around.

Roy Blumenthal's Creativity Tips and Tricks: 'SMART' goals -- specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, time-based


An Acronym To Guide Your Goalsetting
For a goal to be meaningful, it helps if it's 'SMART'.

S: Specific.
M: Measureable.
A: Achievable.
R: Realistic.
T: Time-based.

If I state: 'I want to go to the moon in a few days time', this would NOT be a 'SMART' goal. Sure, it's more-or-less 'specific' (but only just), and it's pretty 'measureable', but it doesn't meet the other three criteria. 'A few days' is not a time-based statement. It's hazy.

If I state, 'I want to walk on the moon's surface by the time I turn fifty on February 17 2018,' I'd be stating a 'SMART' goal.

It's VERY 'specific'. I'm stating the actual thing I'll do when I get to the moon.

It's something I can 'measure'... if I WALK on the surface of the moon, I'll know I've achieved my goal. If I do it by the time I turn fifty, stated as a real date, I'll know whether I've achieved it.

Is it 'achievable'? Given the fact that South African businessperson, Mark Shuttleworth, has already walked in space, I'd say that twenty years is a fair time period to expect commercial moon travel to be possible. In that time, can I take steps to GET myself to the moon? Possibly.

'Realistic'? A little bit science-fiction-esque. But essentially realistic.

And I've already illustrated the time-basedmess of it. I'm not vague about the time. I'm spelling out what 'by the time I turn fifty' means.

Good luck with your own SMART goals.

Sites on Creativity That I've Found Useful: Hugh Maclead of Gaping Void offers his manifesto on 'How to Be Creative'

This is Hugh Macleod's manifesto on how to be creative. A must-read. Download it and send it to friends.

Sites on Creativity That I've Found Useful: Halfbakery

A site where you can exercise your unbelievable whackiness, and see how other people are exercising theirs'. The ideas presented on this mad site are all semi plausible 'almost-inventions'.

Sites on Creativity That I've Found Useful: Charles Thompson, author of WHAT A GREAT IDEA, interviews Nakamatsu

One of the best interviews I've read on the art of creativity. Nakamatsu is responsible for many inventions that we take for granted in today's electronic world. He created the Sony Walkman, for instance. This is a must-read.

Sites on Creativity That I've Found Useful: How To Spot a Risky Client

An article for freelance creative beings on how to spot a risky client.

Sites on Creativity That I've Found Useful: MindTools

A site with comprehensive information on all sorts of areas of creativity. Section headings include: Problem Solving, Practical Creativity, Memory Improvement, Stress Management. Very useful.

Sites on Creativity That I've Found Useful: Eric Maisel

If you've ever needed coaching, Eric Maisel is a creator himself. He is a coach, and he teaches people how to become coaches, and how to self-coach. Recommended site.

Other Squidoo lenses on Creativity & Innovation

Roy's Squidoo on Goal Setting
Here's a set of resources on how to do effective goal setting. Remember, the final step to creativity is taking action.

Roy Blumenthal's Creativity Squidoo

Roy Blumenthal's Creativity Squidoo

I've got some goal setting tools on my creativity Squidoo. Take a look at my take on 'SMART' goals.