In The Art of Creative Thinking, Central St Martins professor Rod Judkins takes a fresh look at some of history’s most creative people. From Michaelangelo to De Niro, Dylan to Jobs, he explores the essence of what brought each their success.
Take Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece, which was scheduled to be filmed in six weeks. Coppola pushed his actors to ad-lib, which created poetic moments, but also hours of unusable footage. In the end, it took 16 months to film over 230 hours of footage, which took a further three years to edit.
Why put so much effort in and ditch 95% of it? Because the 5% that remains is the cream of the crop.
So next time you’re doing a brainstorm for an internal communications campaign brand name or a headline for a magazine article, don’t just come up with five ideas. Push your team to come up with 10 times more, and then double that. The first 40 will be good. The next 40 will be moving your brains into new territory. The final 20 will come from places you’ve never before considered. Here’s where truly original thinking comes to the fore.
Or consider Isembard Kingdom Brunel, one of the most important figures in the industrial revolution. Brunel built railways and bridges that still stand today, but even more iconic is the casual snapshot of him stood puffing a cigar in front of colossal chains in an unidentified shipyard.
Selfies were no mean feat in the Victorian era. It took a team of photographers with a portable darkroom full of noxious chemicals many attempts to settle on the right image. A considerable undertaking, Brunel was looking for an image that would influence how the public perceived him and his work. He understood that image can have greater impact than legacy.
So no matter what great work your leaders are doing, if the way people perceive them is less than favourable, there’s work to do before their actions will be well-received. Find out what people think of them now. As employee engagement experts, we can work with them to improve or change their image. See what difference that makes.
These examples show what happens when you push creativity to its limits. But each one teaches us something about creative thinking in today’s workplace and towards today’s challenges. Interestingly, Judkins now works with businesses to introduce a fresh perspective on business challenges – unleashing the power of teams’ creative abilities.
So next time you’re suffering writer’s block or need a boost of inspiration, The Art of Creative Thinking is the perfect book to turn to.