January 19, 2009

Imagine It

Last week in my new ventures class we watched a half-movie (trailer) about a creative thinking exercise called Imagine It, which is part of Stanford University's Entrepreneurship Week. Imagine It is an exercise where small teams of college students try to add value to basic (turns out unimproveable is not a word) objects, like Post-It Notes. The teams are given five days to create their plan and present for judges.

Imagine It is not a product improvement contest, so teams were not changing colors or making the notes wider. The Post-It Notes were used in the contest as a tool through which the students could focus their creative, world-improving ideas. One team solicited strangers for music notes (one note per Post-It) and composed a random song. Another team, from a developing country, asked community members for ideas in creating a new constitution and presented it to the constitution rewrite committee.

In my class, we split into small teams and are currently working through a less intensive version of the Imagine It exercise. This is one of the very few times in my collegiate career where I have been required to use my brain creatively. This begs the question:

When (if ever) do we lose our creativity?

Is it after high school? After college? When you have kids? I have been witness to glimpses of creativity from people of all ages, but is there going to be a point where it drops off?

In a perfect world, I would like to think that every person has the same level of creativity. Just like everyone has (nearly) the same amount of blood in their body. Here is what I would wager: some people who the world recognizes as creative, like Da Vinci or Tufte, are very, very boring to talk to. Other people, with no artistic bone in their body, could tell you a story that would leave you in stiches or they could feed a family of 10 on $50 per week. Then there are people with no talent whatsoever; completely vanilla. If I am going to win my bet, then they must have the most outrageous and vivid dreams (anything to take them away from their boring, awake time).

Ok, so after I win my bet, it comes back to Imagine It. It would be a really great experiment if the same teams repeat it 10 years later. Some of their creativity has to be refocused into their family/friends (or even their job). Will they still win the contest? Can they still impress the creativity judges?

Random Thought: If I were a life coach, I would not have my life together at all; smoker, drinker, all around hater. It would make landing a TV show a piece of cake, chocolate cake.

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