I bang on a lot of how the simple fact of opening your eyes (really opening your eyes and looking) is one of the easiest ways to give your idea bank/creativity/innovation pipeline a boost. I use this example a lot on creative programs I deliver. The question I ask is, who has the best time on an overseas trip? Do you want to be a traveller with your eyes wide shut (Well, this is a lot dirtier to home, I don’t understand what people are saying and where the hell is a supermarket?) or a traveller with their eyes wide open? (This place is so different to anything I have ever seen, I am going to embrace it and enjoy everything new that I see). The response is always the traveller with eyes wide open has the best time.
Having your eyes open and really taking in what you see (recognising it, pondering on it, exploring it) is like putting a stick of creative dynamite in the brain. The more you look then the more you see. The more you see the more ideas you trigger. Pretty simple but too often overlooked. An article I read of eyes wide open coming to life was titled ‘Gallery puts sleuthing in the frame’ in the Sydney Morning Herald last year.
CIA and FBI agents have been sent on a course at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to ”refresh their sense of inquiry” by analysing paintings. The course leader, Amy Herman, said: ”We’re getting them off the streets and out of the precincts, and it refreshes their sense of inquiry.‘They’re thinking, ‘Oh, how am I doing my job?’ And it forces them to think about how they communicate, and how they see the world around them.”Ms Herman, an art historian, developed the course for medical students, but successfully pitched it as a training course to the New York police academy.
Inspector Kenneth Mekeel, of the New York Police Department, said the course helped officers with their usual line of work.”We always teach them: step back, look at what you have, the crime scene, make observations,” he said. ”There’s more to a picture than meets the eye.’‘Bill Reiner, an FBI special agent, said Ms Herman’s classes had helped one of his officers crack a fraud scheme worth up to $US100 million. ”Amy taught us that to be successful, you have to think outside the box,” Mr Reiner said.
”Don’t just look at a picture and see a picture. See what’s happening.”
When I lectured at the National Gallery of England on the paintings (one of the reasons I loved this story), I went through a similar process myself. Once I really started to see what was happening in the paintings rather than just looking at them, they came alive for me. I was then lucky enough to enjoy a job where I was paid to make these paintings to come alive for groups of people every day.
So where ever you are, what ever part of the new idea process or innovation pipeline you are at in the workplace or even just cruising around our wonderful world, don’t just look – see whats happening and let the great ideas roll!