Roger von Oech

Creative Think

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I remember reading about the path story years ago when I was actually working for a landscape architect and have repeated it numerous times. Love it. Unfortunately, not too many people have the patience to wait to see what will work best in the long run.

I'm pre-coffee, but one thing that comes to mind is that I'm a more creative parent if I can step back and wait to deal with any issues that arise. This gives me time to think about the "whys" of what my kids might be doing and address real issues, instead of my frustration. I also percolate when I write - but I don't go fishing; I wash dishes. Good thing there's plenty!

Roger von Oech

Hi Kris: Thanks for stopping by.

I find that pausing for a bit usually works best AFTER I've put in a fair amount of hard work and thought, not BEFORE.

Dean Fuhrman

This from the Tao Te Ching might be appropriate advice -

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance.

They were careful
as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.

Andrew Assarattanakul

My college actually did this besides the sidewalks the builders felt was needed when a new building was put up.

They would put down sidewalks when there was a well beaten path made by the students that cut through the lawn to go from one building to another.

Shakespeare's Fool

Reminds me of this from Steve Jobs:
"At Pixar when we were making Toy Story, there came a time when we were forced to admit that the story wasn't great. It just wasn't great. We stopped production for five months.... We paid them all to twiddle their thumbs while the team perfected the story into what became Toy Story. And if they hadn't had the courage to stop, there would have never been a Toy Story the way it is, and there probably would have never been a Pixar.

"We called that the 'story crisis,' and we never expected to have another one. But you know what? There's been one on every film. We don't stop production for five months. We've gotten a little smarter about it. But there always seems to come a moment where it's just not working, and it's so easy to fool yourself - to convince yourself that it is when you know in your heart that it isn't.

"Well, you know what? It's been that way with [almost] every major project at Apple, too.... Take the iPhone. We had a different enclosure design for this iPhone until way too close to the introduction to ever change it. And I came in one Monday morning, I said, 'I just don't love this. I can't convince myself to fall in love with this. And this is the most important product we've ever done.'

"And we pushed the reset button. We went through all of the zillions of models we'd made and ideas we'd had. And we ended up creating what you see here as the iPhone, which is dramatically better. It was hell because we had to go to the team and say, 'All this work you've [done] for the last year, we're going to have to throw it away and start over, and we're going to have to work twice as hard now because we don't have enough time.' And you know what everybody said? 'Sign us up.'

"That happens more than you think, because this is not just engineering and science. There is art, too. Sometimes when you're in the middle of one of these crises, you're not sure you're going to make it to the other end. But we've always made it, and so we have a certain degree of confidence, although sometimes you wonder. I think the key thing is that we're not all terrified at the same time. I mean, we do put our heart and soul into these things."

Tom Haskins

The entrepreneurs I mentor wrestle with this one every day. "Make it happen/Let it happen" is a paradox where it takes keeping both in balance. Taken to extreme, "don't force it" becomes passivity, waiting for things to happen and powerless fantasizing. Likewise, forcing it can be over-powering, doing more harm than good and pushing the river unimaginatively. I see a lot of "incubation in reverse" where there is too much effort and then taking a break from the frenzy where nothing good comes to mind. Incubation works great when done like the guy who went fishing: load up the mind with what-if's, design criteria, and varied metaphors/definitions of the problem -- then chill out and see what percolates to into conscious awareness. Instead of making things happen in the outside world, we make things come to mind in the inside world. Acting on these inspirations (wu wei wu, non-doing, effortless action) then starts balls rolling and good things falling into place -- which we simply let happen gratefully. Ah so. Don't force it. make it happen ... let it happen :-)

Roger von Oech

Dean: There aren't many things I do better today than I did twenty-five years ago. But I would say that I'm more patient. Thanks for the comment.

Andrew: Yeah, I've heard that more places are trying this technique!

Shakespeare's Fool: Wonderful story. Although I wonder what the real wreckage at Apple Engineering and R&D was. A friend who used to be an engineer at Apple told me that most of the prototypes and designs there never saw the light of day, and were instead thrown into the "R&D latrine."

Tom: Nice paradox: "Make it happen; let it happen." Also, thanks for pointing out the downside of putting too much emphasis on the "Don't Force It" side.

Alex von Oech

"There aren't many things I do better today than I did twenty-five years ago."

For someone so experienced (and creative), I find it difficult you believe this.

I don't follow...please explain.


A great resource in this regard is "Unobtrusive Measures: Nonreactive Research in the Social Sciences" by Eugene J. Webb/Campbell/Schwartz/Sechrest (Rand McNally 1966), encouraging observing and measuring social activity toward better design or management without prejudicing results as often happens with polls or preconceived solutions!!

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