Category Archives: Creativity

Pinball Wizard

Creature pin

I love pinball machines and that’s partly because they remind me of those halcyon days of my youth – inexorably linked to car culture – of carefree days (and nights) cruising to games arcades, milk bars and making a play for pinball wizardry.

Apart from the nostalgia trip, they’re also works of engineering, design and art crammed into a wooden cabinet.  If you don’t know what I mean, get a load of one some day and take note of the artwork, the design, the colour, the screen-printing (yes, screen-printing; heard of that?), the lights, the sounds, the themes and of course the design of the game play.  Way more character than a PlayStation, but I digress.

Most of all though, I simply love the challenge of playing them because no two games are ever the same (ever).  That got me thinking about the insight to be drawn from pinball, applied to marketing and business planning (particularly in the context of a more strategic, longer run view).

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Rejected? Try Hippo Skin!

A hippopotamus has skin that’s an inch and a half thick and is 25% of its total body weight.  For an animal that weighs 1,800 kilos, that’s a lot of skin.

It’s almost impenetrable (some say bullet proof) and yet a hippo’s very survival out of water depends on a coating of oil it secretes that acts as a moisturiser and sun-screen.  So even though a hippo sports some of the best body armour in the animal kingdom, it still needs to adapt when called for.

It occurs to me that when it comes to dealing with rejection, sometimes hippo skin would come in very handy.
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Creativity is a virtue of the stupid

Think about that for a second.

The process of logic can (and does) deliver great outcomes that make significant economic and social impacts.  People who just get things done through running the logical process to its end are more often than not thought of as being smart.  So by definition, someone not following logic is stupid (the opposite of smart), right?

However it’s from illogic that most real creativity flourishes, so isn’t creativity then, a virtue of the stupid?
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“Come fly with me…”

Being remarkable and memorable involves deliberate steps.

Change the scheme.
Alter the mood.
Interrupt the routine.
Be unexpected.

Need an illustration and example? Watch how this (now famous) airline steward does just that during the usually mundane cabin announcement before the tragic experience that’s air travel in the now times.

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A marketing tip from Agent J

There’s a scene in the movie MIB that offers a valuable piece of insight.

When Officer Edwards (Will Smith’s character) of the NYPD turns up for his MIB recruitment interview, the competition is hot. The best of the best (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) are all in the room vying for a single position in the MIB.

The recruits face a series of tests (or two, so a short series).

Edwards gets the job.

Why not one of the highly-educated, combat-experienced and government-trained members of the military elite?
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Move the box

The concept of thinking outside the box has been around a long time and it’s valid.  Just because you’re thinking outside one box though, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t made another one.

Wouldn’t it be better to keep shifting the box, or even do away with the box altogether?

That’s the real bedrock of creative thinking and a spirit we should all be getting into.