To Spark Creativity, Bend your Mind

Photo by Son of Groucho

Photo by Son of Groucho

"Benderrrr." This is my brother's typical response whenever I bring up the movie The Matrix. It's an inside joke referring to the scene where a young child, upon appearing with a spoon that bends, informs Neo that "it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."

Ok, that's where my sci-fi trivia ends. This concept of bending your mind, however, comes up a lot in my life. Frankly, I think it happens more the older I get, as a I become more and more habituated to looking at things in a certain way.

Because human beings remember with neurons, we are disposed to see more of what we have already seen, hear anew what we have heard most often, think just what we have always thought.

– A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis, Farmini, and Richard Lanon

Here are a couple moments of late that tilted my thinking:

  • Our internal branding team (who branded themselves Edamame, get it? Already way cool.) named initiatives within their team and personified each initiative with caricatures throughout our office. They were called "Norm", "Art", and "Bob". It took me a moment to realize that Norm is the personification of working norms within their team, Art is their visual inspiration, and Bob, well Bob is about what needs to get done (this manifested into a weekly meeting that's called "What about Bob?" but that is just pure genius). Fist bump to the team for manifesting creativity on multiple levels.
  •  At last year's Design Strategy Conference at the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago, we watched a video sponsored by Steelcase in which 7 year olds from around the world were asked to answer the question, "What will the world be like in 100 years?" The children's ideas were wild and inspiring. I was particularly drawn in by the image of a roof-top terrace on skyscrapers, where people go when they are tired and need to re-charge by watching an opera or attending a concert. The young innovator simply stated, "Technology alone won't make us happy. Life without art has no meaning." I am so happily refreshed by children's wisdom when I take the time to crouch down and listen.

I like my routine and knowing what I know. I love being taken to a new place through someone's else's imagination. Where have you gone lately?