Innewvative New Year

inspirationIn our house the beginning of a new school year brings with it the promise of organized binders, clean backpacks and lockers and aced tests for the kids; for me: neat file-folders, a calendar without double-booking and a slate of new creative projects for myself and the workshop. In this hyper-visual digital world rich with so much imagery, it should be easy to find inspiration. It is easy to find inspiration and with it comes a slippery little line.I don't know anyone that likes to be imitated (or worse, have their IP used without permission, i.e. stealing) and any citing of the "best form of flattery" motto kind of just makes it worse.imitationWhen working with some brilliant minds at UCLA* I learned a powerful and simple tool that can help when we're SO TOTALLY enamored of an idea that we want to grab it with both hands but know that it just wouldn't be right to do in business. It's so easy, pretty fun and can yield fast results. Some tell me it's a little geeky. Get ready to try it because here are the 4 easy steps:

    1. Across the top of a piece of paper list the things you like about the inspirational thing (or if you're tempted, wink-wink, go ahead and make a spreadsheet! Or use a HUGE piece of paper up on a wall. Or try it on a napkin.)
    2. Down the left side of the paper list the things you do really well-- your core competencies, your favorite inspiration-imitationmedium.
    3. Here's the magic....look for intersections between the stuff across the top and the stuff down the left (or right-side if you were feeling rebellious.)
    4. Check yourself: is your new idea in that intersection really a new idea? Would it yield imitation of another kind? If yes go back to step 3 or start a new process to go deeper into that idea and see if you can do better.

I had a blast practicing this technique for the first time, used it my previous career and was ultimately invited to speak at the UCLA program year after year about fun ways to take creativity techniques to work. How will you use it? We can't wait to hear what you come up with. Make a wish, make a matrix.

*I'm getting older but if memory serves it was the fellow that invented the pace-maker that demonstrated this technique. Wow, right?[Thank you Breanna Rose for permission to use the image above and Merriam-Webster for the definitions.]