Tag Archives: Lateral Thinking

So, didja miss me?

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With a new job and new responsibilities, I’ve been horribly remiss at blogging. I hope you can find it in your heart or other internal organs to forgive me.

As a peace offering, and to get back into the swing of things, I wanted to show you an example of lateral thinking. An example that involves power tools.   Continue reading

So, I have a new hero. And so should you.

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If you’ve been playing along at home, you know that lateral thinking is sort of my thing. Why? Dozens of reasons. Because it leads to creative solutions. Because mental play strengthens thinking skills. Because it can introduce new life into existing narratives…

Because sometimes, it’s hilarious.

Don’t believe me? I have a wonderful new example. Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky, to the fine and ancient city of Manchester in the northwest of England.

But first, a quick heads up. This story is slightly off-color. And deeply immature. Which is exactly why it made me laugh.   Continue reading

So, here’s Thought Experiment #12

Time for a Thought Experiment

There’s always time for lateral thinking.

In previous Thought Experiments, I’ve asked you about everything from coffee to evil. But as a card-carrying nerd (No, really — I have a S.H.I.E.L.D Agent ID I got from the Marvel Experience, and if that isn’t a nerd card I don’t know what is), I think it’s time we got down to the good stuff.

Comic books.

Oh, comics. How I love you. From the goofiness of the Golden Age to the grittier-than-thou late 80s and 90s, that four-color art form warms my heart. Cliche monthly titles or sprawling graphic novels that challenge the form. Sophisticated storytelling like Neil Gaiman’s epic Sandman. Insightful coming-of-age work like Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin. Inspiring brilliance like Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel. And I can’t forget artists and inkers…

I’m going to stop before I start babbling.

Comics are having a serious pop culture moment, and they owe a lot of that success to the idea of the superhero. There are all sorts of other stories, of course, but when we think of comic books, we think of fluttering capes and quips made under pressure and feats of superhuman coolness.

So here’s the experiment: If your brand was a superhero, who would s/he be? What sort of costume, powers, and backstory would set him or her apart from the others? Maybe your brand is a driven anti-hero detective. Or a conflicted beacon of righteousness. Or a compassionate, regal visitor to the world of men.

Why would I ask this?

Because you, buddy, ought to be thinking about what makes your brand unique.

Go ahead. Give it a think. See what you get.

So, ready to get your graphics on?

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As anyone who’s ever seen me try to decorate a cake will tell you, I am not a graphic designer. At all. And if you’re wearing a lot of hats in your small- or medium-sized biz, I’m guessing you’re not a designer either (unless you run a design firm, in which case you don’t need this post). But not being a graphic guru is bad news for both of us, buddy, and I’ll tell you why.

Gmail grid view.

Now, I’m not saying that those three words should cause you a bowelquake of panic. But I am saying you should check it out.  Continue reading

So, here’s Thought Experiment #11

Time for a Thought Experiment

There’s always time for lateral thinking.

You don’t have to be Lamont Cranston, who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, in order to see if something’s wrong at work. If you have a business, or run a department, or supervise anyone or anything at all, you know that one of your responsibilities is to shore up the weak and make best use of the strong. That could mean people. That could mean processes. That could even mean weird directives handed down from the home office/upper levels that make no real-world sense. So here’s my question to you. Do you know what the weak parts are?

In other words, if you were the bad guy, all nefarious and mustache-twirling, how would your take down your own biz?

Maybe you’d approach a dissatisfied employee who’s vital but feels under appreciated and has been more negative than usual recently. Maybe you’d exploit a manufacturing inefficiency. Maybe you’d develop a social media strategy for your competing company that whupped the pants off what you’re currently rocking.

What’s really important is that you take stock. New year, new start, right? Like Peter Drucker said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Why would I ask this?

Because as you let your inner evil genius out to play, it ought to occur to you, buddy, “Hey, now I know what parts of my sky-writing firm/jelly bean factory/envelope licking service need to be fixed!”

Go on. Take a look around. See what you find.

So, I’m nowhere near done with lateral thinking

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Now, I don’t want to brag? But I bargain hunt, y’all. Double coupons, discount codes, extensive online searches — I can squeeze a dime so hard Eleanor Roosevelt returns from the dead to smack me for roughing up her husband.

So when I decided to investigate shooting some lo-fi guerilla video for marketing and branding tastiness, I was not going to splash out for a shiny camera that did much more than I needed for much more than I wanted. Especially since I’d have to do tons in post to get the effect I was after.

Enter the fine folks at White Rabbit Japan, and the single most adorable video camera ever created.   Continue reading

So, here’s Thought Experiment #8

Time for a Thought Experiment

There’s always time for lateral thinking.

“Hey, Stephanie — what’s with the Thought Experiments, anyway?” you didn’t ask. But I’m going to answer anyway. I’m nice like that.

There’s this clever gent named Dr. Edward de Bono who wrote “The Use of Lateral Thinking” in 1967. And it is. Useful, I mean. It’s become sort of trendy and buzzword-y since then, and the original meaning has sometimes been lost in a haze of vague approximation, but in essence, lateral thinking is using creative, indirect approaches to solving problems.

That is what each of these little experiments is designed to do. Make you think about your branding in a different way. Shake up your assumptions. Walk up to your preconceptions, poke ’em in the chest, and say, “What’re you gonna do about it, punk?”

In other words, there’s a method to my madness. And here’s today’s experiment.

What coffee drink is your brand?

Maybe you want to be a sleek and high-tech coffee, like a Chemex pour over, to reflect your modern sensibility. Or maybe you’re youthful, playful, something frothy and blended? Maybe you take no guff and no prisoners, and you’re a straight up cup of joe, black, no sugar.

Why would I ask this?

Because you, buddy, should start thinking about how you want to present your company to consumers used to seventy gazillion options.

G’head. Give it a ponder. See what’s in your cup.