Tag: creative problem solving

Be More Effective By Thinking Like A Film Director

be more effective, be like a film director Have you ever sat down at a computer screen or maybe a piece of A4 paper with a determination that you will ‘get that report written’ come what may. Days or perhaps weeks later you are still in exactly the same position. You need to be more effective, but how?

Why is that, especially when you know everything there is to know on the subject, you have your conclusions all ready and your boss has made their impatience obvious. You still can’t do it though, can you?

I have been the victim of this in the past and have observed this in those around me more recently. So what can be done about it?

Some readers will swear blind that a change of scenery will help and that the answer will come to them. At the risk of being controversial, I suggest that the change of scenery itself will not do the trick.

But in the process of changing the scene or moving around, something else is likely to change, your focus.

First of all, let us rewind a bit and take a look at the generic creative problem-solving process. In order for things to work efficiently, we need a series of divergent and convergent phases. First, work out what the problem might be (produce a range of causes) then work out what the cause actually is.

Similarly, we do the same with the solution to the problem.

So how do we relate this to our report writing scenario? Well, let’s go straight to the point where we are stuck. You have the facts, the conclusions, in fact, you have everything apart from a structure.

You also have a piece of paper or a laptop screen which is a bit like a small window. You are struggling to see something larger but through a small letterbox.

To help make things easier you can do any or all of the following:

  • Use a larger piece of paper (try flipchart)
  • Swap to your desktop PC with a 19inch monitor
  • Gather your thoughts in a non-linear fashion i.e. a mindmap

All of these will allow you to see the bigger picture. You are really just tricking your brain but widening the scope will make things easier. It will help you to be more effective.

When you have got your thoughts in order then you can bash out your document.

Those in Marketing might use storyboards (still linear but the steps can be modified or re-sequenced easily). Video and TV directors may very well do the same thing (ever wondered how a film director can shoot scenes out of sequence and still create a great film).

In a nutshell, widen your scope, get all the bits in focus then create your masterpiece.

Think like a film director!

Newsletter – The Electrification Of Fruit

Dear Reader,

Once again I would like to say that the autoresponder on my website should now be working as intended. If you signed up for my newsletter at the tail end of 2017 but you never received your free download then please let me know.

The series of short videos which I am gathering together under the title ‘Rough Cut Creativity’ are being added to but are not yet published. If you have not had a peek yet then you can find them via YouTube by clicking here.


At what point did someone realise that the Earth was not flat? That is one big change in thinking. Try thinking ‘What If?’ about more everyday things (or even in your business) and see where that takes you. What if chips had never been invented? What would we be eating with fish or burgers?


Travel Agents are just Travel Agents, right? Wrong! Since I talk about finding The Difference That Makes The Difference, how about this? For all you business people out there, did you know that you can actually book flights months in advance (guaranteeing that seat and that price) but not have to pay until much closer to departure? Similar things can be done with hotel rooms too! It makes business travel much easier. For more ways to find out how the pain of travel can be taken away get in touch with Daniel Reed (email danielr@travel-pa.com or visit the Reed Travel website).

Banish boundaries

Now, back to the fruit ….

Whilst standing in the shower I let my mind wander a little (well quite a bit actually) and it settled upon the electrification of fruit as a topic. I began to wonder what electrified fruit might look, smell and feel like. What functionality would it have, what consumer needs would it fulfill? My sensible, logical side then said ‘don’t be silly you can’t electrify fruit’. And it might be right but flip this on its head, what if fruit could supply electricity?

Many of us have at some time created a ‘potato clock’, a device powered by a potato. That will not save the energy problems that we have because it produces very little current but the subject of fruit & veg together with electricity is a very interesting space for ideas (biomass etc).

This led me to think a little more seriously about assumptions and boundaries. Many people might assume that fruit and vegetables have no place mixing with electricity. Someone has created an arbitrary boundary there, a fence that says ‘do not enter’ to your brain. This might be a good idea but what if …?

Another interesting subject is that of stereotypes or categories. Do you remember when the EU first started meddling in food products? In Portugal, they produced Carrot Marmalade. I’m sure that it is a fine product and the EU obviously thought so too. They had previously decreed that marmalade must be made from fruit and so redefined carrots as fruit rather than vegetables.

This arbitrary and silly categorisation has far-reaching consequences but it is entirely unnecessary. It now forces EU bureaucrats to think of the category of fruit as containing carrots whilst the category vegetables does not contain carrots. This might mean that carrot growers are treated as exactly as fruit growers or excluded from obtaining grants or subsidies aimed at farmers or vegetable growers.

How often does our categorisation of objects or behaviours prevent us from solving problems or taking a potentially advantageous course of action? Instead of being controlled by labels, we should focus on what works and what does not. Maybe one day we will electrify fruit, who knows? Until then, let us trample over the arbitrary boundaries that are created.

Please do get in touch or provide feedback by replying to this newsletter, or using any of the contact methods listed on the website derekcheshire.com.

Happy reading,

Derek Cheshire

Ways I Can Help You

1. Keynote speaker - How to avoid the Innovation black hole,  how to add Creativity to your business toolbox
2. Innovation measurement - find out where your strengths lie using tools created from my Innovation Equation
3. Innovation programs - help to set up and run your innovation initiatives.
4. Workshops - idea generation, managing creative people and much more

Derek is a Fellow of the RSA, a speaker, facilitator, award-winning radio presenter and Adjunct Professor at VIT University, Chennai. He has been working in the field of Business Creativity and Innovation since 2002.

Remove The Blockages And Let The Solutions Flow

There are many ways in which you can be stopped from creating solutions and generating ideas. Some are physical but many are psychological. Here are five such blockages together with suggestions for removing them.

1. Copying is cheating
This may be the case for school examinations but not in the world of business. Really great ideas are often protected with patents and copyright so you cannot use them (not without fear of legal action anyway). If an idea is not protected then you can use it, I call it ‘creative swiping’. Tell the doubters that this will get things done quickly and that you can make your own mark by tailoring the idea for you own purposes. This is exactly the philosophy behind Open Source Software.

2. We Must Figure It Out Ourselves
There is great pleasure in doing this however why should you do this if someone else has already done so? Save time and create original ideas elsewhere. Avoid getting into this situation by rewarding people according to the generation of a solution rather than for the effort put in to generating a solution. They will soon get the message.

3. We Are Inferior If We Cannot Figure Things Out
This is a natural feeling and if bad if you are always taking in ideas from outside (some people do however make a good business out of this). At some point your problem solving team will generate ideas that other people will wish to use so the balance can be redressed. You should emphasise that customisation and adaptation are as important as original thought.

4. Problems Are Owned By Individuals
People have a great attachment to the problems that they work on, particularly engineers and scientists. They can be reluctant to share their problems so you can explain that the issue is critical (making them feel important) so it might be necessary to involve others or look outside the organisation as a normal part of solving problems. Do not remove ownership from the original owner if at all possible and never force people to work on issues that they do not own or have no interest in if you wish them to remain motivated.

5. Fear Of Being Replaced
This is common when it is suggested that problem owners share their problems of look for outside help. Reinforce the idea that nobody is being replaced and that looking elsewhere for solutions is part of the problem solver’s toolkit.

Address the above and you will notice an improvement immediately.