July 2015

Childlike Creativity

2017-03-01T11:55:13-04:00 Categories: Destination, grow, SandBlog|Tags: , |

At Idea Sandbox we talk a lot about being childlike and using your imagination… how solving problems is about creativity and how creativity is driven by your ability to imagine new ideas…

I found this interesting bit about being more like a child in Rob Eastaway’s book, “Out of the Box: 101 Ideas for Thinking Creatively

Adults are often overly concerned about thinking and saying what they’re expected to think rather than what they really think. Young children have a refreshing honesty about them, and divert their energy to new things that excite them.

He continues to say that there are three stages of life:

From 0 to 4 years old is the “Why not?” stage.
From 5 to 11 years old is the “Why?” stage.
From 12 onward is the “Because” stage.

This because stage is where we start to conform to adulthood and lose the “curiosity and wonder about the world that leads us to ask those crucial questions, “Why?” and “Why Not?”

To be more creative, you need to recapture some of the behavior of your childhood.

April 2015

Creativity Is More Practice Than Magic

2015-04-15T18:42:45-04:00 Categories: solve|Tags: , , |

As problem solvers our role is to support companies, clients, and customers by solving their business problems. We’re asked to help drive sales, increase traffic, and build community.

These challenges, and others, are solved through our ability to combine ideas in new and meaningful ways. That’s creativity.

Creativity is sparked by our imagination. Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned to quell our imagination to pursue lives as “serious adult business professionals.” Deep inside, unheard and hidden lies that imaginative kid who used to ask, “Why not?”

The few “chosen ones” that are creative are viewed with awe like a master magician… Their ability to pull a tagline out of a hat leaves us in ooo-ing and ahh-ing, with golf-claps of delight.

Creative? Me?! I can’t do that! *Gulp*

The good news?

That’s just your perception. A misperception.

That kid is still in there. We need to remember how to play. Moreover, creativity is a skill you learn – like cooking or riding a bike. The more you do it, the better you become.
And the magician?

They aren’t actually magic. They’re regular folks… like you and me. They’ve simply taken the time to learn things we haven’t… Like, how to stuff and hide a rabbit up a shirt sleeve.

Their “tricks” are simply a series of repeatable steps that, through lots of practice in front of a mirror, create an illusion.

Check out books and sites like Idea Sandbox for tips and techniques designed to wake up that kid inside you, re-kindle your imagination, and strengthen your creativity skills.

Before you know it you’ll be performing amazing feats of problem solving that will delight and amaze your boss, colleagues, friends, family – and most importantly – yourself.

After all, we don’t actually have quarters hidden behind our ears.

June 2011

Better Brainstorming Mad Lib

2011-06-10T11:20:51-04:00 Categories: create, SandBlog, think|Tags: , , , |

Leonard Stern, the inventor of the “World’s Greatest Word Game” Mad Libs, passed away today at the age of 88.

In his honor, I’ve created an “Better Brainstorming” Mad Lib.

Mad Libs – as a creativity tool – always provided immediate benefits of being creative and imaginative. I loved that about Mad Libs. The more creative you were with your words, the better the pay-off with the final story.


Download this Brainstorming Mad Lib and play at the office! [PDF, 228kb]


Mad Libs was a fun part of growing up. It was a treat mom would buy to help pass time while we were taking family road trip vacations.

To think up the silliest (and most gross) nouns, verbs, and adjectives would always create explosions of laughter.

Today’s New York Times story reports how Stern, a writer for TV comedy shows in the 50s came up with the idea working with Price.

Mad Libs was conceived in 1953, when Mr. Stern was writing a script for “The Honeymooners.” As he recounted in interviews afterward, he was casting about for a particular word. His friend Roger Price, a humor writer, happened by.

“I need an adjective,” Mr. Stern said.

Mr. Price obligingly supplied two: “clumsy” and “naked.”

Mr. Stern laughed out loud. The word was intended to describe the nose of Ralph Kramden’s boss.

December 2010

The Person With The Best Imagination Wins

2010-12-03T10:36:22-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , , , |

Einstein once said, “imagination is better than knowledge.” It is more important to see possibilities than to know the facts.

Dan Roam, in his book Unfolding the Napkin, wrote:

“Problems don’t get solved by the smartest or the fastest or the strongest; they get solved by the one who sees the possibilities.”

Dan also added…

“Yes, we need to have the intelligence to pick the best option; yes, we need the speed to get it done on time; yes, we need the strength to make it happen and stay on course. But the hardest part of all – finding the solution – depends only on our ability to see what’s in front of us and imagine as many ways as we can to deal with it.”

The above images, from Dan’s book, inspired this post.

The skinny, smart kid used to get sand kicked in his face by the big, strong hunk. But, the smart kid has the ability to imagine what the lunk-head can’t. As you can see – creative-pants found away around the wall instead of trying to crash it down.

Here are some ways you can be more of a creative pants…

9 Tips To Improve Your Imagination

  1. Believe it can be done. – Allow the impossible to be possible – just for a few minutes.
  2. Get in the habit of thinking-up ideas. – As with nearly everything in life, you get better at it with practice. We give up too soon sometimes hoping for an instant solution. Rarely do great things come instantly.
  3. Keep an idea journal. – Don’t lose your ideas, write ’em down. Then, later on, review these ideas. Don’t just write them down – make a habit of returning to them and reviewing them.
  4. Look for better ways to do things. – Make a habit of thinking-up ways to “plus” things, ideas, products, systems… From the belt system at the grocery store to raking leaves… Keep your wheels turning. Is there a way to add-value in the projects you work on. How they depart your desk in a better when then they arrived?
  5. See problems as opportunity. – We can get hung-up on the word ‘problem.’ Problems are perceived as impenetrable walls – something that gets you stuck. (Like the stick figure above). Assume a problem is a positive challenge that, with enough poking around, has a solution.
  6. Relax – Allow yourself to daydream. To think up goofy ideas. Lighten up. The more you relax, the more access you get to your subconscious.
  7. Think Young – Be playful. Be a kid again. Don’t do this all day of every day, but at least once day.
  8. Be Curious – Think in the world of possible. Start sentences with: “Could this…” and “What if…” and “Let’s try…”
  9. Inspire You – Move. Go somewhere else. Do something physical. Listen to music.
Illustrations by Dan Roam, found in his book “Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures.” (The sand-kicking cartoon is from a Charles Atlas ad.)

January 2010

April 2009

January 2009

December 2008

Teacher Problem-Solves Budget Cuts

2010-09-22T22:06:28-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , |

Did you see the article last week in USA Today about the teacher who is selling ads on tests to make money to afford to make copies?

Tom Farber, a calculus teacher at Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, California “did the math” and calculated that at 3-cents per page he would need over $500 to print his tests for the year… However, school district supply cuts left him with only a $316 printing budget.

So, he had the bright idea to allow his tests to be sponsored. So far he’s collected over $350 by charging $10 for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test, and $30 for a semester final (which, by the way has sold out).

Most of the ads purchased have been motivational quotes underwritten by parents… But it also includes a local dentist ad stating: “Brace Yourself for a Great Semester.”

While the root problem that needs a solving is the underfunded schools, Mr. Farber’s ability to take a different and creative approach has solved his short-term pain.

Are there non-traditional approaches you should consider at your business?

Photo by Charlie Neuman, San Diego Union-Tribune

October 2008

May 2008

Creative Problem Solving: Invention of the Ice Cream Cone

2010-09-22T22:07:51-04:00 Categories: create, SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: |

The weather is warming up here in Amsterdam… We’ve had a week of sun and temperatures in the mid-70s.

It’s ice cream weather, which brings to mind creative problem solving and the invention of the ice cream cone.

In September 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair an ice cream vendor ran out of dishes for serving his ice cream. He was going to have to close for the day until he acquired more dishes. However, his neighboring vendor, Ernest Hamwi, was selling fresh waffles and saw an opportunity. Hamwi rolled his waffles and offered it as a way to contain the ice cream – and the ice cream cone was born.

How are you ‘running out of dishes’ and what are potential solutions?