Christmas Brainstorm

2008

First, let me wish you all the best for this holiday season. I also hope that this bulletin has provided you with some insights and inspiration this year and in the coming year you'll continue to join me in our search for how we can be more creative and productive. Here are some ways I've discovered recently:

1: How to Become a Streetcomber
At the Idea Forum 2008, Richard Stomp, an innovation and strategy manager in The Netherlands, suggested that being out in the world is a much better way of coming up with ideas than sitting at your desk.

He calls it "streetcombing" (like beachcombing, but in the city). He does this once a week, taking pictures of anything of interest. He posts the pictures and the associated stories on his website. Here is his six-step lesson in how you can become a streetcomber, too:

  1. Find an interesting street
  2. Watch with a child-like mind
  3. Take pictures of everything interesting that you see (lots and lots - of course you can use video, too)
  4. Put those pictures on your computer
  5. Ask yourself, what is the concept behind this picture? What was the principle behind its interestingness?
  6. Take that concept and start generating ideas for applying it to your own industry or current biggest challenge.

ACTION: Why not try streetcombing sometime this week? If you have brainstorming sessions with other people, ask everyone to bring in at least ten pictures and use those to spark new ideas.

2: What's the Outlook for 2009?
Would a peek into the future help you in your business or personal life? Trend spotters Faith Popcorn and Marian Saltzman shared their predictions with the Los Angeles Times recently. Here are some of their key prognostications:

  • generational tension (recent grads will feel cheated and resent Baby Boomers);
  • the entertainment industry will thrive, with a heavy emphasis on nostalgia, happy endings, and fantasy;
  • a move to safer cities and an increase in escapist behaviour, including smoking and drinking;
  • stronger nuclear families and families of friends (including communal living) and sharing of transportation;
  • acceptance of downward mobility - going simpler, smaller, and more ecologically aware.

ACTION: What implications do these trends have for you or your business? What action can you take now to benefit from them?

3: The Creative Power of Sleep
Research is revealing more about the importance of sleep in the creative process. I've written before about how writers, inventors, scientists and others often have an "aha!" moment that reveals the solution to some puzzling problem, either in a dream or immediately upon waking.

Recent research at Harvard, conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, suggests that if the time you spend trying to find a solution includes a period of sleep, you are 33% more likely to make creative connections. In other words, you're more creative after sleep, even in the absence of those aha! moments.

Some businesses have even installed EnergyPods, recliners with a hood that blocks out light and sound, so workers can take a nap.

ACTION: the next time you're stuck - sleep on it! Short naps (15 to 20 minutes) are best, otherwise you go into a deep sleep cycle and will wake up groggy if you don't sleep for the entire 90 minutes.

4: Be a Copycat - but Copy the Right People!
Copying the successful strategies of other people is a great short cut to your own success. The key thing is to copy the right people at the right time. In these tough economic times, the people and companies doing the best are not necessarily the same ones who were most successful when times were good.

ACTION: Which people or companies in your field seem to be thriving despite (or maybe even due to) the recession? Which people and companies in other fields? What can you learn from them and apply to yourself?

5: Consider a Gratitude Journal
Some people call them 'joy journals' - notebooks in which you note every day whatever happened that made you happy or the things for which you are grateful. It may sound a bit happy-clappy, but researchers at the University of Southern California have found that it contributes to a better mood and even improved health.

ACTION: Experiment with keeping a joy journal - you don't have to call it that!

6: And a Quote to Think About
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

Until next time, take the opportunity to think fondly of the friends no longer with us, and let those who are know how much they mean to you. Happy holidays!

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About The Author

Jurgen Wolff
Jurgen Wolff

Jurgen Wolff is a writer, teacher, and hypnotherapist. His goal is to help individuals liberate their own creativity through specific techniques that can be used at work as well as at home. His recent books include "Focus: the power of targeted thinking," a W. H. Smith best-seller, and "Your Writing Coach".