Tag: creativity

Newsletter – Which way does your banana bend?

Dear Reader,

The autoresponder on my website should now be working as intended but if you signed up at the tail end of 2017 and you never received your free download then please let me know.

I have been busy recording a series of short videos which I am gathering together under the title ‘Rough Cut Creativity’ because they were created and uploaded on a whim. More titles are on the way soon but for now, there are four. They will soon appear on my website but readers can access them now via YouTube by clicking here.


Tesco – helping you spend less every day. Pay attention Tesco. By spending we are giving you money, so we can only spend more, not less. Unless of course you are going to give us money!


This week I seem to have spent a lot of time in traffic staring at the rear end of another car. Do some manufacturers really think about the badges that they stick on the back? I know that Skoda, like Lada, have been a laughing stock in the past but they have improved quite a bit. Even so, do they think that the two words ‘Skoda’ and ‘Superb’ together will not cause laughter? Also they have a small car which they have crazily named ‘Roomster’. It might be like a Tardis inside but I immediately thought ‘hamster’. Maybe thats just me!

How much thought do you give to the words and phrases that describe your business?

Which way does your banana bendBack to the subject line of this email. I have asked the question ‘Which way does your banana bend?’ to many different groups in workshops that I have taken. Most people seem to freeze and you can see a thought bubble coming out of their head with WHAT? written in it. Once a chap did reply that his banana no longer bent because he had eaten it.

It is, of course, a trick question for us adults but maybe not for children. A child would see a banana laid out on a table in say ‘left’ or ‘right’ whereas an adult would just think ‘stupid question, it depends on how you are holding it’. The issue here is of course perspective.

What if you had been taught how to remove the skin from a banana but only if it bent round to the right? What would you do when confronted with a banana that bent round to the left? You could flip the banana over so that it appeared to bend the other way, or you could walk around the other side of the table which would have the same effect.

We do similar things when repairing cars or decorating. When something is the wrong way up we turn our head sideways, or even upside down to be able to see the problem clearly.

So why is that when we are confronted with business issues that we don’t try and look at problems in a different way before trying to solve them? Note that this is slightly different to the ‘Missing Sock’ issue from last month. Then we were concerned with doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Now I am posing the question of whether it is advantageous to look at a problem from a different viewpoint in order to get a different (and maybe better) solution.

So the answer to the question is maybe to the left, to the right or even straight depending on how I choose to look at things! Enjoy that banana.

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/online 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.

Where does Creativity happen?

Inspiring meetingsThis is a question that often passes our lips. Where does Creativity happen then? One possible answer is ‘everywhere and anywhere’ but really the original question ought to be better framed. For instance are we talking about where creative activities might take place within an organisation? Maybe we are talking about the mechanisms by which individuals might come up with creative ideas or which parts of the human brain are being used?

So I shall try to shine a light on both of these areas.

Traditionally Creativity would have been found in areas such as Marketing or Product Development, or rather that is where you would have been told to find it and where employees would have been given permission to be creative. In fact Creativity can be found (and always could be found) in all parts of an organisation. The big difference is that now we know that all employees can be creative independent of their job function. This means that in order to tap into this creativity the mechanisms that are used to capture and recognise ideas must have a greater reach.

There are also issues of permission and the ability to handle ambiguity for those in management positions. Things are no longer confined to neat boxes.

But where does creativity happen for individuals? The actual ideas are formed in our heads (the easy bit) and then we have to externalise them somehow (often the hard bit). We can be creative anywhere but creative situations fall into a small number of categories. We are often creative when faced with adversity or tight deadlines. However, over do the challenges and we often give up. The right amount of pressure is critical.

Creativity is often found where there is some sort of tension (not necessarily war like tension). People with varying backgrounds and opinions will often create the right atmosphere as long as they can respect the viewpoints of others.

We can be creative individually but often need to dream or daydream. Either that or distract the part of our brains that screams ‘no you can’t do that so that the creative part of your brain can have a party.

These are only my opinions. It does not really matter where creativity happens just as long as it does.

Creativity And Chaos

Chaos and creativityAccording to an anonymous quote I read recently “Chaos is not merely a mindless jiggling, it’s a subtle form of order”. Chaos theory is closely linked to creativity so I will provide a brief introduction. In reality there is no chaos, just different levels of order!

There are some fundamental concepts which I first need to point out:

  • The key for us to perceive or observe order is perspective
  • There can be order in apparent randomness
  • It only takes a very small change to move from a chaotic system into an ordered one and vice versa. Such events have been labelled as a ‘strange attractor’.

Imagine you are inside a system which appears chaotic, for instance an atom. You will observe electrons whizzing around your head like insects in a random fashion. Step up a level and you will notice that everything appears more ordered. If you step up to the molecular, you should notice that things will appear more ordered still.

In science lessons at school we have all observed Brownian motion. Here molecules apparently move in a random fashion when heated. Later we discovered that they conformed to a mathematical formula after our teachers conducted a random walk experiment.

It seems that if we can attain a high enough vantage point then we can indeed ‘separate the wood from the trees’. Slip low down and once again we become lost in chaos.

How can we make use of this knowledge within our organisations and businesses? Well layers of hierarchy do remove those at the top from the apparent chaos. At each level those within the organisation must learn to recognise the patterns of the adjacent level.

Insert too many layers and you cannot see what is happening, and if we insert too few will result in brains frazzled by complexity. For an organisation the implications are profound. To improve the performance of an organisation we must do a little pruning. We must remove some of the layers that build up over time that merely act as sticking plasters.

Too many attempts to interpret or understand is a little like Chinese Whispers, and then to make sure we have it right we begin writing everything down as procedures and red tape takes over. We then restore order, but we may lose creativity forever.

We must learn to walk that fine line between complexity and order that allows us to both implement a strategy and make use of chaos at the same time.

This is the key principle of the creative organisation.