Doom, gloom and a side dish of uncertainty doesn’t feed creativity. But what if there was another way to think about a crisis? A way that sparked something so ground-breaking it changes the world.
Inventiveness increases and creativity heightens in a crisis when innovation is not optional – it’s a necessity.
You may think I’m over-egging it slightly but let me remind you of some great inventions and how they came to be.
Archibald McIndoe, a surgeon from New Zealand, reconstructed the faces and hands of badly burned airmen during World War II. His pioneering treatment shaped the future of what we now know as plastic surgery.
Chocolate cookies only came to be thanks to the Great Depression and the shortage of bakers’ chocolate. This got Ruth Graves Wakefield thinking. She cut up small pieces of chocolate bars to create something completely new. Ruth gave the rights to her recipe to Nestle for just one dollar and a lifetime supply of their chocolate. The market space for chocolate chip cookies today is worth over $18 billion in the US alone!
Isaac Newton, the chap who found inspiration from watching a falling apple, started his research into gravity while quarantining during the Great Plague of London. In 1665 he, along with other fellow students, were sent home from Cambridge in an attempt to stop them from catching the disease. With more time on his hands, he allowed himself to look out of his window instead of in his books. The rest, as they say, is history.
So, it’s true, when we are forced into a new situation or have to work out new ways of working for whatever reason the end results can be outstanding.
Thinking inside of the box
I’m not a fan of this term, I see it all too often when people attempt to brag about an invisible characteristic of themselves. It’s easy to ‘think outside of the box’, that space is limitless and there are no boundaries.
If anyone can stand out within the constraints of a box – then that’s impressive!
Limitations forces us to think differently, to search for solutions to problems in places we’ve not looked before.
When things no longer fit
Marketing is made up of lots of elements. There’s the product itself, the visuals, the language, the place it is sold, the promotions, the people who buy it and more besides. It’s a marketer’s responsibility to make all of these components fit together like a jigsaw puzzle – each piece nestles perfectly alongside the others to make the overall picture work.
In a crisis, like the one the world is facing now, some of these pieces no longer fit.
· Is the product still what people need?
· What are the needs of your customers? Have they changed?
· Is the design appropriate?
· Is the tone and language appropriate?
· What is the mood of your audience?
Step back and really think about the problems that your customers are facing. Revisit your brand’s values and consider if you are still able to meet them.
And remember that change is good, change brings opportunity.
Start all your questions with ‘How’
The ‘What’, the ‘Where’, the ‘Who, the ‘Why’ and the ‘When’ are still super important but in a crisis, focus on the ‘How’.
How can I fix this?
How can I make my customers’ lives better?
How can I make the most out of this situation?
How can I adapt?
How can I get my message across?
How can I prepare for the unexpected again?
Is boredom a bad thing?
Let’s go back to Newton for a moment. He called his time quarantining his ‘wonder year’. Away from his studies, the young Isaac opened his mind to a spot of daydreaming. Weirdly, it’s something that’s frowned upon in the classroom, but according to scientists allowing ourselves to be bored every now and then is a very good thing.
It has been proven that daydreaming powers our brains. It helps us to think of new solutions and possibilities even when we are not directly thinking about a particular problem. Drifting off in our thoughts can spark great insights.
So, there you have it, it’s true that taking a break from your usual activities is good for creativity. It’s free and easy too: walking, listening to music, staring out of windows, doodling, reading – you get what I mean.
If you feel like the pieces to your jigsaw puzzle no longer fit together, think of ways you can solve this problem.
And if nothing comes to mind, take it easy on yourself, move away from your phone or PC and immerse yourself in something different. If none of that helps either, then maybe the best thing you can do is to talk it through with someone, someone like me, who may be able to find your solution in a place you hadn’t thought of looking.
The crisis according to Albert Einstein
I would like to end this blog by reminding you of some of the inspirational lines taken from Einstein’s writing entitled,
“We can not expect things to change if we keep doing the same things.”
In the crisis that is inventiveness, discoveries and great strategies arise.
In crisis emerges the best of each, because without crisis all winds are only mild breezes.