The question that occurred to me is the exponentially growing need for creative ideas in dealing with complex systems as our world is.
Does creativity give room for more creative opportunities?
This post attempts to answer the relationship between complexity and creativity.
Extremes Lead to Complexity
When a system moves away from its balance and is on the edge of chaos, it creates the opposite effect. For example, extreme love leads to jealousy and a tendency to control the beloved one.
Over-connectivity leads to rigidity gaps.
Very fast growth leads to the exhaustion of resources and a poverty gap emerges.
Very fast successes lead to the success syndrome and its ill effects.
Too much focus on one issue creates weaknesses. Enron focused much on patronizing talents. The talented people sought to show their talents at the expense of doing their jobs and Enron went bankrupt.
How Can We Put Gaps and Reverse Effect to Good Use?
Let me share known examples first.
When the police in Florida penalized the mostly young traffic offenders by jailing them the youth boosted their manhood being jailed. Jail became pride-booster. Going to this extreme exposed them to the fragility of their pride. Taking pride away from them became humiliating. Therefore, the punishment in jail was to feed offenders with baby food. The pride of manhood for being jailed vanished.
The creative approach for going to the extreme is by devising a contrarian rule to offset the current prevailing situation. In the above traffic examples the rules are:
- Penalize the offending drivers
- Treat jailed violators like babies,
A similar case again of traffic violators in Finland where a different creative idea helped eradicates the problem.
The speedy drivers did not mind paying the fine to show that they are brave and strong A simple, yet powerful creative idea emerged from reversing their attitude by making the committed drivers shine. The idea was to use part of the collected fines to give big money to luck drivers who kept the speed limit. The idea worked beautifully. This is consistent with the idea that extremes open the door for simple creative ideas to be effective.
I may adhere that one rule cannot clap on its own. You need a second rule to exploit the emerging weakness emerging from the first rule.
Here, In the Finnish experience the two rules are:
- Penalize uncommitted drivers
- Reward committed drivers
- Use revenues collected from penalties to reward lucky committed drivers by lottery.
A third example is too much consumption leads to piling wastes. These wastes can be a resource for use with simple creative ideas.
A Jordanian young man collected the surplus of milk that owners were not allowed to dispense off outside and pollute the surroundings. Instead of seeing it as a waste, this man used it as a cheap resource to manufacture white cheese, which is highly favorable by some residents migrating from the Middle East. The business thrived.
A fourth example is people staying away from buying brand new cars with scratches on the outside. This extreme rejection became the spark for a creative idea.
A car dealer had many cars left in the showrooms towards the yearend. The common policy is to offer discounts so that people may buy them before the arrival of new models. The manager had a simple, yet very powerful idea. To scratch very lightly with a pin three cars and offer high discounts for visitors of the showrooms who find the scratches.
Instead of seeing the scratched cars as low-quality cars, the visitors overwhelmed with curiosity rushed to find the scratches to get a good deal. The dealer sold the three cars with a generous discount but also realized that the dealer was honest for advertising the scratches. The visitors trusted the dealer and all bought all cars in the showrooms at a minimum discount.
This brings the idea that overconsumption creates problems such as waste disposal, a vast array of choices, and a great number of suppliers. These weaknesses opened the opportunity for simple creative ideas to emerge.
I have two questions for readers:
- Reading the above, how would you change the campaigns urging smokers to quit smoking by borrowing ideas from the above examples?
- The leftover ideas, beliefs and whatever is a great source for creative approaches. Can you think of few ideas?
Our times are excessive in information generation, communications, choices, and connections. These rapid developments are taking us to the extreme and our world is getting more complex than ever. These developments open the door wide open for generating creatively simple, but effective ideas to seize the emerging opportunities.
The more complex our societies are, the more weaknesses shall emerge and the more opportunities shall be available for the creative minds.