Turn Your World Upside Down (for better ideas)

Sometimes you get to truly learn the value for having a real live, not imaginary, Creative Genius team. I’d been asked to create a mural for the Seattle Space Needle that would inspire the employees as they walked down the hall just after the employee entrance. Let’s be clear, while I am a strategic illustrator, I am not a muralist. In fact, I draw in pen and pastels on paper and I have absolutely no mural nor painting experience, so I knew I was going to need help. I called up one of my favorite collaborators, Scott Ward, who has done a half dozen murals in the Pacific Northwest. “Hey Scooter, want to paint a mural at the Space Needle.” Yes, he was up for the challenge! Together we interviewed employees for their stories, then after I drew some preliminary sketches, Scott gave his Creative Genius input, cleaned up the drawings and the Space Needle approved the 34’x4’ mural. We both fully anticipated being able to use markers on the wall, which was my typical medium. I’d done a small test using markers on a similarly painted wall in my garage at home, which seemed to go well. Subsequently we went out and bought $500 of markers in all colors and went in, ready to knock this mutha out.

Using a projector, we projected the drawing onto the wall and pencil sketched the image late into the night. The next day, when we went to put the first marker to the wall, we were met with a big surprise. The pen pulled the paint right off the wall and the pen immediately got all gummed up and became unusable. OMG! This wasn’t going to work! It would take thousands of hours and three x the amount of markers to create the mural this way. Clearly another solution was required. What now? Quickly I had to up the volume on my Creative Genius, while trying not to poop my pants with the sheer terror of what I was facing. “You’ll have to paint it”, my Creative Genius whispered.

Paint it!! What?! I’m not a painter! This would require skills I did not possess. Guess what?! I had hired one of the best painters in the city, my Creative Genius teammate, Scott Ward. We looked at each other and laughed, then got in the car, drove to the art supply store, returned the pens and bought paint and paint markers instead. Back at the Needle, Scott gave me a crash course in how to paint a mural. The new paint pens were almost like using markers, which made it easy to transfer my drawing skills to the wall and Scott finessed the parts of the mural that needed painting in his unique, whimsical style. Wow, that was one of those experiences where I found myself literally up against a wall, begging my Creative Genius (and the universe) to help me figure it out. It required a ton of drive to get to completion, but pure awesomeness ensued.

Getting to Better Solutions – Vuja De

Sometimes you just need to look at things from different angles.

Adam Grant writes in his book Originals, “Vuja De is the reverse – we face something familiar, but we see it with a fresh perspective. That enables us to gain new insights into old problems. The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option existsOriginals – pp. 7.

Here’s an example of how this works in a business case scenario…your analytics team needs to come out of a team session totally hyped about some new process that will help transform how the company does business and cut costs at the same time. They literally need an outcome to the infinite power.

You are the team leader and guess what, you are also the facilitator for the offsite. You know from experience that you won’t get that kind of outcome from your team if you subject them to slide deck after slide deck. That is the kind of mind dulling experience that might be a good setup for a NAP, but not extraordinary outcomes, especially during COVID. You know that full on interaction is what is going to get your team to come up with great ideas, interaction and action.

But you aren’t sure that you are all that great at coming up with design ideas for an offsite. Here’s how to work the Creative Genius Equation backwards.

Fill in the blanks, what will give you…

Outcome to the infinite power:

Exciting analytics processes that also cut costs.

Drive: When is your deadline?

It has to be able to be completed in 6 weeks

Desire: Why do you really, really, really want this?

We really want it to happen, because the pain of not doing it = daily torture

Imagination: How can you use your imagination to help you come up with ideas?

We need to brainstorm a bunch of different ideas, maybe let’s make it a game since all of our team are millennials that love gamification.

Intuition: What process will access your gut and brain to filter your ideas to know which ones to take action on?

Scale of 1-10 which idea holds potential? Scale of 1-10 who knows how to do this or wants to learn how?

Now you have a process that you can use to help you get to your goal. You’ll want to be flexible in your process, and have a few back up ideas for areas that you may get stuck in. Use Mural, InVision, or some other kind of online collaboration tool. Invite everyone to take a swatch of space and come up with 500 crazy solutions. Suggest using different angles. Force multiple views. Tell them to come up with ideas that will get them fired. Rotate sections of the workspace and have them choose the best ideas and develop them further. Begin with the end in mind. Manipulate the equation to help you shift how you do things. What you and I both know from experience is that we can’t persist in luling people to sleep if we want extraordinary results. It won’t happen.

This year we have had to shift how we do almost everything. We order food online, then perhaps we deliver it. Our in person meetings all went virtual – we could have stayed at home helping our environment by cutting down on driving years ago, we didn’t. Now we have to. Turns out it’s better for our family. In the process some of you drug your feet – you hated technology, you avoided social media, you refused to learn to code. Guess what? You got to up your Creative Genius’ skills. That is awesome.

Look around, the world is chaotic right now. Lots of people are struggling. The planet and its people need all of our talents to sustain the freedom we have earned and the beauty that surrounds us. A transformative experience starts with one person, you. If you want things to stay static the rule is this: keep doing what you’ve always done. The catch is you can’t complain about it. You can’t just say you want things to be different without activating your Creative Genius to serve the world.

This week try something by starting with the end first, then back it up into the current moment.

Take a challenge you are working to solve…then fill in the blanks, what will give you…

Outcome to the infinite power:

Drive: When is your deadline?

Desire: Why do you really, really, really want this?

Intuition: What process will access your gut and brain to filter your ideas to know which ones to take action on?

Imagination: How can you use your imagination to help you come up with ideas?

Scale of 1-10 which idea holds potential? Scale of 1-10 who knows how to do this or wants to learn how?

Now is the time to do something different, try something new! I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Remember, your Creative Genius is just waiting for an invitation to serve – YOU.

Big love to you!


Patti Dobrowolski mail
Patti Dobrowolski picture holding markers

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