February 5, 2015 in Work Smarter
Just wanted to share a little anecdote from two years ago that I think describes creativity quite well.
It was Super Bowl Sunday and my friends and I had skipped off to Maine for a ski trip. We had a total of 20 people staying in the cabin that we rented for the weekend. Many of us were excited to watch the big game but there was a problem: the TV in the cabin was stuck on a single channel.
Naturally, everyone banded together to try and figure out a solution. The diversity of all the possible solutions being thrown around the room (and the way each person handled the problem) presented a nice case study into creativity.
Some of my friends decided to go out to a local electronic store (Best Buy, etc) to try and track down a replacement remote for the TV. Others decided to tinker around with the TV and find a way to hack the schematic/controls in order to change the channel. Both attempts proved futile with all the surrounding stores closed around the area and the TV with no way to change the channel without a remote. A few others became frustrated and decided to tackle the problem by going to a bar instead to watch.
After much deliberation and a few hours later, the game was about to start and no one yet had a solution that would allow us all to watch the game together in the cabin.
I wanted to watch the game and came up with a solution by breaking the problem down into the simplest form. The key to all of this is getting a remote but how did we know which remote? Even if a store was open, the remote we bought wouldn’t work with 100% certainty. Wouldn’t people who lived in the same neighborhood have a remote that would be compatible with this TV? Likely so. They would also likely have the same cable provider.
Not telling anyone, I snuck out into the cold and started knocking on doors. Most people were surprised that I was walking the barren tundra that is a New England winter. The first 4 houses didn’t have a remote but that last one did. I brought the remote back to our cabin and while everyone was staring at the TV (playing the wrong channel), I flipped the button and changed it right as the football was being kicked off. Mouths dropped in disbelief followed by cheers of joy.
Taking this story and extrapolating lessons learned, I’ve found more often than not that creativity is hardly ever a stroke of genius or coming up with a bright idea. Instead, it’s having a simple idea, going out into the cold and knocking on doors.