Simply Brilliant
eBook - ePub

Simply Brilliant

Bernhard Schroeder

  1. 224 páginas
  2. English
  3. ePUB (apto para móviles)
  4. Disponible en iOS y Android
eBook - ePub

Simply Brilliant

Bernhard Schroeder

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Discover the powerful techniques that unlocks your creativity and spark new ideas, which will ultimately lead you to continuous business success.

Do you label yourself as "just a numbers person"? Do you pigeonhole your capabilities to merely that of an analyst or other "non-artist"? Stop feeding yourself these lies and learn how even you can tap into the creative genius driving Silicon Valley's success stories and begin brainstorming innovation solutions to your company's challenges.

Using his CreativityWorks framework, creativity and innovation expert Bernhard Schroeder explains how to break out of your self-imposed mental box, reignite natural curiosity, and move step by step through a set of exercises that help individuals and teams.

In Simply Brilliant, you will learn how to:

  • Fuel creativity through tight deadlines;
  • Create more ideas in brainstorming sessions;
  • Radically improve products;
  • Find inspired solutions using tools such as IdeaGen, SCAMPER, Tempero, and the Phoenix List;
  • Let go of the "I'm not creative" mindset;
  • And open the door to imagination and limitless opportunity!

Even a "numbers person" like you can capture markets with your company's next innovative idea.

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Myths are fascinating. If you believe a myth just enough, it becomes a “truth.” But in reality, it is still a myth. To better understand the “myths” surrounding creativity and innovation, let’s draw perspective and insight from someone whom you might not put on your short list of creative people. But he was. Albert Einstein. To hear Einstein talk about himself, he was not a creative genius; he just believed in himself and felt he worked harder than others to solve problems. He had three things to say about himself:
Follow your curiosity: “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Curiosity helps to fuel our imagination. When we ask questions of others, we can find out important information to help us solve problems, open new doors, and form connections. When we ask questions of ourselves, we can shake up our beliefs, reveal our innermost desires, and make positive change. Curiosity becomes the alchemy for innovation.
It’s worth pointing out that you don’t necessarily have to have existing problems you want to solve, doors you want to open, or connections you want to make right now. Being curious all the time discovers and saves up all the ingredients for when you do have to perform some alchemy later.
Imagination is powerful: “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge.” With one idea, an empire can be built. Take, for example, Walt Disney, a true master of imagination. He built an empire on the back of a mouse. When Universal Pictures took his original animation character, a rabbit named Oswald, he was stunned. Faced with what he felt was betrayal, he and his Disney Brothers Studio worked even harder and readapted the rabbit character into a mouse called Mickey. While not initially successful, within six months he produced the first animated movie with music and sound effects and it was an instant hit. Imagination and creativity opened the doors of possibilities; today Disney/ Pixar is the leading animation company in the world.
Perseverance is priceless: “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” If you have a goal at work or in your life, you’ll be faced with obstacles, but by staying with problems longer, as Einstein says, it can mean the difference between failure and success. Another amazingly creative inventor, Thomas Edison, said it perfectly. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I have seen and worked with countless entrepreneurs who ultimately persevere not so much because of their intelligence or luck, but because they outwork everyone else.
As simple as Einstein makes things—after all, he reduced the complex relationship of matter and light to energy in the most elegant and famous equation in physics—the first step is to not limit yourself into believing you are not creative. That means not believing these longstanding myths.


Creativity is something that everyone has inside of them. And yet the common belief in our society is that some people are just born creative and the rest of us are not. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s examine some of the common creativity myths.

The Flash of Insight

New ideas sometimes seem to appear as a flash of insight. But research shows that such insights are actually the culmination of working on the problem for a period of time. Everyone remembers the Wright brothers’ first successful flight, just not the previous three years of experiments and failures. We remember what worked and what did not work, and we build on it. This thinking is then given time to incubate in the subconscious mind as we connect threads before the ideas emerge as new “just thought of it” innovations. As Steve Jobs put it:
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it—they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.

The Creativity Gene

Many people believe that creative ability is a trait inherent in one’s DNA or genes. That, in fact, if your parents or relatives were creative artists or designers, then you will be creative. But the evidence does not support this belief. In 2009, researchers published a study in Harvard Business Review where they concluded that creativity is 20 percent inherited and 80 percent learned behavior. People who have confidence in themselves and work the hardest on a problem are the ones most likely to come up with a creative or innovative solution. Would you necessarily get a creative person from parents who were an attorney and nonprofit evangelist? What if all he did was program computers? Yet, was Bill Gates, Microsoft’s cofounder, creative? You bet.

The Original Idea

According to Ecclesiastes, which dates to the third century BC, there was already “nothing new under the sun.” While some intellectual property (IP) attorneys might argue that that’s not true and that a person can own a creative idea, history and empirical research show more evidence that new ideas are actually combinations of older ideas and that sharing those ideas helps generate more innovation. “Innovation and Iteration: Friends Not Foes,” written by Scott Anthony for the Harvard Business Review (May 12, 2008), illustrates this point exactly. He showcases several new product examples in Silicon Valley that were derivatives of other iterations before they achieved a level of innovation. We needed to develop a flip phone, then a smartphone, to come up with a smartwatch.
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” Isaac Newton wrote to fellow scientist Robert Hooke, echoing, appropriately, an idea first expressed four centuries earlier.
Ed Catmull, president of Pixar, talks about how critical “the creative team” is to the growth of an idea that forms an amazing film. To paraphrase him, no one might remember who offered up the single idea for a rat that could be a chef, but Ratatouille became a great movie due to thousands of additional ideas from an amazingly creative team. So, share and spark as many ideas as you can and see where it goes. Don’t worry about trying to come up with something brand new. Instead, create something amazing.

The Innovation Expert

Many companies today still rely on a technical expert or team of experts to generate a stream of creative ideas. Naturally, the experts will fulfill that expectation by providing answers based on their past experience. Therein lies the problem. People with the most in-depth knowledge and experience typically prefer the methods that have made them successful in the past and dismiss new approaches they have not tried before. Instead, research suggests that particularly tough problems often require the diverse perspectives of an outsider or someone not limited by the knowledge of why something can’t be done. So-called beginner’s mind refers to the propensity to approach each situation with openness and few preconceptions, no matter how many times you’ve encountered it before. Tom and David Kelley make this very clear in their book Creative Confidence, which is based on the principles of their creative consultancy firm, IDEO.

Rewards Drive Creativity

The expert myth often leads to another myth, which argues that larger incentives, monetary or otherwise, will increase motivation and therefore increase innovation. Incentives can help, but often they do more harm than good, as people learn to game the system. In Drive, Daniel Pink highlights the rather stunning amount of counterintuitive research that suggests that money can actually make people less motivated to do creative work. That is, once people have a base level of money that makes them comfortable, using monetary incentives to get them to do creative work not only fails, but leads to worse performance. Creativity and innovation, it’s been shown, are their own reward.

The Lone Inventor

Just as the great men of history weren’t the only ones to make history, the great innovators didn’t create their works alone. Most people, for instance, believe Steve Jobs created Apple. I liked Steve Jobs. Our marketing agency worked with him at NeXT, Pixar, and Apple. But there was a core team that really helped start and accelerate Apple. Steve Wozniak and Mike Markkula were incredibly important. Wozniak was the technology expert and Markkula supplied the marketing and sales expertise. Creativity is a team effort, and recent research into how to incorporate creativity in a company’s culture can help leaders or entrepreneurs assemble amazing teams.

The Prerequisite Brainstorm

Many company managers today preach the use of brainstorming as a way to spark creative ideas that might yield innovative products or services. Unfortunately, very few of the “corporate” brainstorming sessions I have ever attended yielded anything but the frustration of wasted time. The real genius of brainstorming isn’t the number of ideas listed in a short period of time. Instead, it’s the many various combinations of ideas that can develop when individuals share their own thoughts with each other. Those combinations could never occur apart from interaction. To make brainstorming really effective, use a brainstorm tool, a time-based framework, and clear rules. And try to generate as many “conversations” and ideas as possible. In the early moments of brainstorming, the quantity of ideas always trumps quality.

The Happy Company

Believers in this myth want everyone to get along, believing that this “happy” environment might foster innovation. That’s why we see so many “creative” companies build workplaces where employees play foosball and enjoy free lunches together. But breakthroughs leading to innovation come from creative dissent. In fact, many of the most creative companies have found ways to structure dissent and conflict into their environment to better push their employees’ creative limits and to question what is possible without any regard to past and present solutions. You have to embrace that the world is changing and that you need to adapt, create, and innovate. That kind of thinking would have helped Borders bookstores and Blockbuster.

More Resources = More Creativity

Another popular notion is that constraints hinder our creativity and the most innovative results come from people who have “unlimited” resources. Research shows, however, that creativity loves constraints. In our own agency, we did the best work when we had limited time and client resources. You had to be more creative just to make everything work harder. I have often said our marketing teams were more creative on $5 million accounts than $100 million accounts. Today, when working with startups, I am amazed at the creativity you have to have when you only have $25,000. Perhaps companies should do just the opposite—intentionally apply limits to leverage the creative potential of their people.
If you believe your company’s or startup’s success depends on your being more creative than your competitors, don’t just blindly follow these creativity myths. Instead spend the time needed to understand and nurture the components of creativity in your environment. How creatively are you or your company pursuing innovation? Or are the myths of creativity holding you back? At the same time, don’t fall prey to these innovation myths.


I honestly don’t know if most people could actually explain or define the “process” of innovation. Can innovation be predicted? Can you innovate on purpose or on demand? I don’t think so. And yet innovation occurs every day. That means that quite a few people out there either don’t know or care about any myths of innovation. So, let’s examine and debunk the top ones.

We Know History

So much of what we think we know comes from our knowledge of history about anything. But do we know the real history of any major innovation? Writers and historians tend to shape history as if it were a creative story: chronological, precise, with characters overcoming conflicts and their own limitations. The problem with that is it puts us into a limited and defined area. We then believe in something so strongly related to the history of that innovation that we may actually not examine the real failures, which led to the innovation. For any major innovation you may know in your industry, examine its real history.

The Innovation Formula

The challenge with being innovative, especially in a given marketplace, is the many factors that are beyond your control. You can do everything right and still fail. Industry analysts and technology leaders would have us believe they can see the future of innovations that they believe will actually occur. Is there an innovation formula? Really, that’s impossible. Innovation is not predictable. It’s like understanding Moore’s Law (which says the power of computing doubles every two years) and somehow knowing what technology device to manufacture that consumers will love. While innovation will never cease, you can’t really use a methodology or formula to innovate. You just keep iterating or improving current ideas until you create or stumble to a breakthrough.

New Ideas Are the Best

As humans, in general, we are pretty conservative and don’t embrace new ideas easily. Don’t believe me? The next time you are in a meeting, sing your answers to questions. How accepting would your peers...


  1. Cover
  2. Half title
  3. Title
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. Introduction Why Creativity Matters in Your Career and Life
  7. Chapter 1 The Myths of Creativity and Innovation
  8. Chapter 2 The CreativityWorks Framework
  9. Chapter 3 Mindset: Unleash Your Inner Creativity and Innovation
  10. Chapter 4 Environment Matters: Leadership and Culture
  11. Chapter 5 Habitat: Your Surroundings Are Key
  12. Chapter 6 Teams Are Critical: Aspiration and Mission
  13. Chapter 7 Brainstorming Rules and Practices
  14. Chapter 8 Iteration and Innovation Are Personal
  15. Chapter 9 Phoenix List: CIA Tool for Everyone
  16. Chapter 10 IdeaGen: Map Your Solution
  17. Chapter 11 SCAMPER Your Way to Innovation
  18. Chapter 12 Blue Oceans Are the Destination
  19. Chapter 13 Tempero: The Parts Are Greater Than the Whole
  20. Chapter 14 Observation Lab: What Do You Really See?
  21. Chapter 15 Marketplaces, Trends, and Innovators
  22. Index
  23. About the Author
  24. Free Sample From Fail Fast or Win Big by Bernhard Schroeder
  25. About Amacom
  26. Copyright
Estilos de citas para Simply Brilliant

APA 6 Citation

Schroeder, B. (2016). Simply Brilliant ([edition unavailable]). AMACOM. Retrieved from (Original work published 2016)

Chicago Citation

Schroeder, Bernhard. (2016) 2016. Simply Brilliant. [Edition unavailable]. AMACOM.

Harvard Citation

Schroeder, B. (2016) Simply Brilliant. [edition unavailable]. AMACOM. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Schroeder, Bernhard. Simply Brilliant. [edition unavailable]. AMACOM, 2016. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.