Magical Ideas and Creative Solutions
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
Arthur C. Clarke
A Magical Idea is a brilliant solution to a challenge with a “minor” proviso: it is unrealistic, not feasible, not implementable, impossible!
When the Magical Idea is in some way transformed into a realizable project, it becomes a Creative Solution.
In practice here’s the method and some real examples:
· Define your Challenge.
· Imagine a Magical Idea.
· Transform it into a Creative Solution.
In times when people had to be close to musicians to enjoy music, the challenge arose “how to have music without musicians?” Magical Idea: a device that reproduces music on demand. Creative Solution: the phonograph.
In the early 1900s, Michael Cullen sought to simplify the process of buying household items. Magical Idea: customers take what they want and pay at the end. Creative Solution: King Kullen, the world’s first self-serve supermarket.
Each person to communicate with every other person was the challenge Arthur Clarke addressed in his 1956 short story featuring an imaginary satellite network encircling the globe. When this became reality, we had satellite television and mobile telephony.
Twenty years ago I helped the Municipality of Nicosia introduce recycling. Their Magical Idea: get celebrities (Leonardo di Caprio and Angelina Jolie were mentioned) to do door-to-door demos. Their Creative Idea: organize a presentable group of people to visit homes.
Taking a flight of fantasy followed by a sound return to the ground leads to more unusual ideas than brainstorming. And sharing imagination promotes deeper communication and collaboration.
“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’
I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
NB. I am grateful to Hubert Jaoui who introduced me to this technique. De Bono aficionados will also recognize similarities with his “provocation” technique.
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