Imagination for Planning: Run the Play With Your Mind First

Imagination for Planning: Run the Play With Your Mind First

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” — Albert Einstein

A good salesperson runs through the entire interview with her client in her mind while she’s still in the car.

A great college football running back viewed video of his best plays and then ran the back in his mind.

A speaker visualizes his performance while off stage before anything begins.

People make lists of New Year’s Resolutions and then file them away–undone. Years ago I gained a shred of wisdom when I realized I was just copying last year’s resolutions and reprinting them in the front of my planning diary (before it was all electronic). Why go through the exercise only to feel guilt at the end of the year? Or the first of February?

Albert Einstein made his mark in physics not through his knowledge of math but through his imagination. He imagined gravitational pull on planets and stars, and light traveling through time. That told him which equations to work out and how to work them.

Instead of lists (which I love for remembering things to do or for brainstorming) why not try imagination? Imagine what your year could be like and what sort of person you will be.

  • Imagine joining a group that promotes a cause you admire. See yourself there. Then call someone next month.
  • See yourself reading two books a month for personal growth. Then download several books for your tablet app. Or visit a bookstore and buy a few books. Put them in a visible place. Read for an hour every morning or evening. You’ll be amazed.
  • Visualize time with the family.
  • See yourself at the gym every morning or evening. See the entire process of getting there, your workout, the sauna, the shower, feeling refreshed.
  • What can you imagine for yourself? There are no limits in imagination. Let it loose and follow it where it goes.

Who sees the irony of my making a list of suggestions? 😉

Happy New Year.

PS:  I have mostly taken the week off for thinking and imagining. So my December stats will suck. I’ll be back at it next week with more connected manufacturing coverage, leadership thoughts, and occasional marketing tips.

Productivity-Brainstorming Not Always That Beneficial

Productivity-Brainstorming Not Always That Beneficial

Ashton begins, “Brainstorming was invented by advertising executive Alex Osborn in 1939 and first published in 1942 in his book How to Think Up.” Osborn liked the process because it generated lots of ideas. But questions about its utility sprang up.

Ashton continues, “Follow-up research tested whether larger groups performed any better. In one study, 168 people were either divided into teams of five, seven, or nine or asked to work individually. The research confirmed that working individually is more productive than working in groups. It also showed that productivity decreases as group size increases.”

Personal productivity

Get that, an individual can be just as productive as a group. And the larger the group, the lower the productivity.

“Another assumption of brainstorming is that suspending judgment is better than assessing ideas as they appear. Researchers in Indiana tested this by asking groups of students to think of brand names for three different products. Half of the groups were told to refrain from criticism and half were told to criticize as they went along. Once again, independent judges assessed the quality of each idea. The groups that did not stop to criticize produced more ideas, but both groups produced the same number of good ideas. Deferring criticism added only bad ideas.”

The mantra is don’t criticize anything. Just write ideas. People who lead these things are always over the top enthusiastic. More ideas does not equal better ideas.

“Research into brainstorming has a clear conclusion. The best way to create is to work alone and evaluate solutions as they occur.”

And the conclusion:

“Having ideas is not the same thing as being creative. Creation is execution, not inspiration. Many people have ideas; few take the steps to make the thing they imagine.”

The blog post was excerpted from How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery, by Kevin Ashton, available here.