Strategic Stimulation


The following techniques give you specific ways to cheat using existing forces. This first force is strategic stimulation. Here’s what that means, when people brain chain on their own (that is look at stimulus and see what their minds can conceive of), some do pretty well. When they brain chain in groups, they do a lot better. When they brain chain alone or in groups with strategic stimulation, they really score. It’s all in the strategic stimulation.

Strategic stimulation is simply looking at the paper of the neighbor who’s already been there or someplace similar. For example, when working on a new package, study the packaging of leading cosmetics, software, health and beauty aids, candy, breakfast cereal… wherever packaging innovation happens. Look in unexpected places: How do Jaguar dealers “package” their showrooms? Look at an origami website, the Boy Scout Handbook knots section—anything to do with enclosing and presenting stuff.

You can do the same with any problem you’re working on. IF you want to be a better lover, for example, you can go to the typical sources—pick up any Cosmopolitan magazine, watch Austin Powers, read Dating for Dummies. Then reach further and study Shakespeare’s sonnets and the Kuma Sutra, read the love letters of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Think beyond human love and consider the mating rituals of the sexiest animals, like the bonobo monkey. Animals do some pretty outstanding things to impress and care for each other—grooming, singing, strutting, and sharing food. A lot of love and affection goes on between pet lovers and their pets. What can you borrow?

As morning fog sweeps across the desert floor, the water sticks to the peaks of Stenocara’s bumps, You see where this is going. And you can see how your options expand and how fresh and original they can be when you use strategic stimulation. If you want your options to take you beyond the expected, beyond incremental improvement, you’ve got to play outside your neighborhood.

image: © Adrianna Williams/Corbis


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