Roger von Oech

Creative Think

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Cam Beck

This reminds me of the story I read about the space race... Scientists had to figure out how to allow astronauts the ability to write in space, so America invested millions of dollars in creating a zero-gravity pen.

The Russians sent their cosmonauts up with pencils.

Jim Ley

Arguably, the most famous and most creative person was the master of this re-framing technique.

In his often quoted speech, he used the combination of two phrases five times:

"You have heard that it was said "

"but I tell you".

The implicit question challenged his audience to consider the possibilities.

How would the world be different if their prior world view was interpreted anew?

Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr creatively enabled political and social change by modeling the master.

You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Tom Haskins

This got me thinking about how many times my own viewpoint gets contradicted by blogging. I'm forever getting more ways to think about something I've already pondered. (My file system is not making me any faster, but it is making me go deeper). A case in point is two contrasting points of view I read in the past day. I'm thinking that blogging is evolving into its next generation of bloggers who are more provocative, insightful and focused on a particular range of issues. I read yesterday that bloggers are "a million people in pajamas". Today I read that Henriette Weber attended a technology conference and said: "there was nobody who said the word “blog” or “web 2.0″ which to me is a very visible sign that “blog” and “web 2.0″ is getting passé… slowly but firmly. It is not where the geeks are anymore."

So I cannot take my own viewpoint has the final word on how blogging is shaping up right now. Very cool!

Drew McLellan


This is such a vital skill. We wrestle with clients every day to help them understand that they are not the customer. Their (the client's ) view point is critical but it is not the only one that matters.

Your examples are, as always, excellent. The birthday one is perfect to remind ourselves that we can't even fathom all the different ways people approach a situation/product/problem/opportunity.

Great post!


Roger von Oech

Cam: Nice delicious story. Thanks.

Jim: Good model, indeed.

Tom: Interesting take. I, for one, would prefer a different word or concept to define and/or characterize what you and I and Cam and Jim are doing.

Drew: You're right: marketers (and the rest of us) can all benefit from a good POV shift at least a few times a day. BTW: Nice series of posts over at the "Marketing Minute."

Phillip Marzella

This highlights the need to rethinking our assumptions - Not only reframing the questions - but also framing the supposition that there is a problem.

Shakespeare's Fool

Then did everything including the astronauts' eyes and lungs enjoy the floating graphite?

ann michael

Great post, Roger. I also love Phillip's comment. Which is saying the same thing from a different perspective (how ironic is that!?).

I used to work with a very difficult and opinionated CIO and one of my team's favorite tactics in highlighting whether or not a direction she was taking us in was productive was to get to the root assumptions of her approach and question them.

It was both very effective and a non-personal way to uncover a potentially unproductive path!


Tom Haskins

When we're thinking we need something new, better or different, it takes a different viewpoint to use what we got. Two examples I ran across today: "The best contraceptive to distribute in developing countries is the knowledge that your children will live" and "Instead of worrying about training your employees and the leave the company, worry about not training your employees and they stay".

To bring a different viewpoint to the crabby observers of blogging, perhaps they feel differently than we do because they feel excluded from the fun. Maybe they are only finding blogs that are superficial, unlike us who are enjoying blogs that are provocative, profound, playful and purposeful. Maybe they are writing their put downs in their pajamas and hoping their misery finds company.

David Anderson

PATCHWORK QUILT... this is the key phrase I started with this morning, before encountering your thoughts on viewpoint change...

a connection is: The World, as we know it, is a patchwork quilt of viewpoints

As far as I am concerned, however, the question raised is: "how different a viewpoint am I or anyone else able to fully believe in?" And if such a viewpoint is actually adopted-as-real, what kind of world will we actually experience, instead of "our norm"?

In other words: are "reality" and "the world" extremely flexible, rather than some fixed state, that only can be viewed from various perceptive angles?

Does "reality" and "the world" actually proceed (into manifestation) according to the viewpoint believed-to-be, real?

Can "creativity" be much more potent, than most imagine?

(or should it better be asked: Is human creativity precisely limited by exactly that which one can truly imagine as possible? Are the parameters of true creativity, entirely self-imposed?)

David Anderson

& a follow-through consideration:

A Point Of View is an equilibrium.

- "don’t disturb my equilibrium", say most people, most of the time.

possibly, one reason quite a few truly creative people “go crazy” and/or are “self-destructive” is precisely because true creativity is NOT at equilibrium, and is “out-of-balance”, and totters on the edges of currently-defined-sanity.

A Point Of View is an equilibrium.

One can play with different points of view WITHIN A SET without much inherent difficulty; such as “what would it be like to be left-handed?” Such questions certainly can lead to different understandings… but not to really different understandings.

However, if one takes seriously an entirely different Viewpoint Set, one may encounter severe challenges both within one’s now-conflicted historical self, and also “outside” in the no-longer-real, world.

(so it seems to me)

Roger von Oech

Shakespeare's Fool: Good question! Perhaps no graphite broke free.

Ann: Who moved on: you or the CIO?

Tom: Those are great questions. BTW: glad you're enjoying blogging so much. I appreciate your comments.

David: You raise a lot of questions. I'm not sure I have enough answers!

David Anderson


as you know:


The raised question, the hanging question, mark the spot, where an answer may appear.

The answer may come by any number of means... directly, intuitively, through another person, as an image out in the world, via a book, the radio.. on and on.

But it is the open question that calls to the answer... that beckons a response.

Personally I think that is one aspect of what is meant in the biblical scripture: "ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE"

Matthew 7:7

Ask, Seek, Knock
7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you

And I also think that in this regard, questions are more important and useful than answers.... questions remain one step ahead of any answer, previously given....

ann michael

She was ultimately let go (it took about 18 months after I got there) - a couple of years later I left too!

jim burke

I recall a paper called the Death of Environmentalism, critical of the tactics and strategies used in eco-campaigns. There was a great line that really stuck with me: "Martin Luther King Jr never gave an "I have a nightmare speech." It is a useful perspective for a variety of planning and assessment efforts.

Roger von Oech

Jim: Great thought-provoking quote.

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