How to be an innovative genius and pull off grand success in 5 minutes or less

Hide and seek

You’ve seen the ads and heard the pitches. Use this drug, and the aggravating issue you are struggling will be relieved. There is a downside. There could be side effects. Problems. Issues. New things you might struggle with. How do we know this? We tested a statistically significant group of people… willing subjects with their consent for a little cash in their pocket, and discovered that a certain percentage of them suffered from these “side effects” after using the drug.

What is a side effect? It’s a nice way to say that this drug compromised a certain part of your body’s control system, and now that part of your body is being attacked by other forces that it cannot withstand.

Who would do this to themselves? Let’s talk numbers. Extreme hypothetical example: Suppose my company had a goal to get 90 million Americans to take our drug, but based on the numbers from our study we knew that .05% of the users would either die or be severely brain damaged as a result. This would mean that we are aware that we are knowingly going to kill 450,000 people or render their brains useless.

Now we have to tell people that they should sign up for our little campaign, but in the end 450,000 of them will die. That is a lot of people. How do we convince them to take such a risk? Let’s try hiding in plain sight.

How do we do that? Let’s just tell them over and over, in the open, in plain sight that they might suffer from nausea, hot flashes, swollen tongue, suicidal thoughts, depression, confusion, vomiting, hair loss, abdominal pain, head pain, neck pain, leg pain, arm pain, butt pain, and foot pain. Tell them over and over and over until they don’t hear the words any longer.

After all, if we keep telling them this and we are not alarmed, why should they be alarmed? Eventually they won’t be. Now we have an open market. Genius.

What does this have to do with being a creative genius? Glad you asked. The idea that you can capitalize on the opposite of what you are actually trying to achieve is not a new idea. Lets  look at brainstorming as an example.

With brainstorming the goal is to get everybody’s ideas bouncing off everyone else’s ideas, so in the end the whole pool of ideas is greater than the sum of its parts. But people get stuck in brainstorming. So what can you do? Introduce reverse brainstorming to the group! With reverse brainstorming you ask brainstormers to come up with ways to achieve the OPPOSITE of what you really want to achieve. Why? Because you can invert the ideas and come up with viable concepts that nobody would have thought of otherwise.

Example: Apple corporation has hired you to come up with an iphone design that isn’t so easily dropped by users. Huge need. If you and your cohorts sit down in front of a whiteboard to brainstorm you will begin to come up with shapes for the phone that fit in the palm better. Cool. But not innovative. Now get your peers to think about how they could make the phone so droppable that nobody could hold it well. It would get constantly dropped. Someone will suggest making it a smooth, glossy, heavy large sphere. Tough to hold without dropping. How do people hold spheres like that?  Well, in bowling they drill holes in the sphere for your fingers and call it a bowling ball. Cool. How do you hold 16 pounds like that securely? It’s a pretty good grip. Your fingers go inside these channels. Like a glove. Zowie!! A glove! You just invented the glove phone! That idea is far more innovative that an existing iphone with a slightly different shape.

So the creative solution to your problem may be hiding in plain sight. Try exploring the opposite of what you are trying to achieve by suggesting a reverse brainstorming exercise next time your team needs concept ideas. Then see who the creative genius is in the room afterwards.


Tom KraMer

President, Kablooe Design