Creative Thinking for Business
Creative Thinking E-book
When we are looking at a product or process, we often tend to concentrate on only one of our senses. How does it look? How does it feel? How does it smell?
Whether done consciously or unconsciously, we experience things in our lives with all five senses simultaneously.
If you stop and think about it for a minute, you know this is true. If you are looking at buying a new car, your brain experiences input from sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel. What color is the car and how does it look? How quiet is the ride? Does it have that “new car smell?” How do the seats feel? How does it handle? How does it taste...What?
Now if you’re like most people you’re saying to yourself, “what do you mean how does it taste?” You can’t taste a car. But let your mind expand into a creative thinking mode. What does the question, “how does it taste” suggest? What could it lead to? What else does that question make you think of?
Often just by asking the question, you discover a whole bunch of items relative to taste. I am sure you will generate a lot of ideas if you don’t let your initial reaction stop you.
Even if you don’t specifically find something directly relative to taste, something else happens. If you allow your mind to wander, you can start to see how the concept of “taste” could come into play. How about cup holders? What if I spill a Coke on the seat, can the fabric handle it? Would it be easy to clean up? How many groceries can fit in the trunk? Is there enough room to drive the entire family to dinner?
The concept of “Senseable” Design is fairly simple and follows the same logic as the Six Thinking Hats with a twist. With the Six Thinking Hats we apply the concept of “lateral thinking” in that the entire room is required to think about the subject and discuss it from various points of view, but only one view at a time and everyone at the same time. With Senseable Design we do the same thing only we use each sense one at a time and at the same time. So what you do with Senseable Design is to take each of the senses as a category and brainstorm all of the ideas associated with that sense and the subject at hand. You do this much the same way as you would with one of the Six Thinking Hats. Instead of picking a hat you pick a sense.
If you took a subject like Christmas, it is pretty easy to conjure up a lot of ideas in each of the five senses. The sight of snowfall, the smell of the Christmas tree, the taste of eggnog, the feel of opening presents, and the sound of Christmas Carols. With some products or situations it’s not that obvious that all five senses are at play.
Steven Jobs of Apple computer was having dinner with some friends back in the early days of Macintosh’s history. Jobs had given a friend one of the computers to give to his daughter. They were all having dinner together one evening when Steve asked the girl how she liked her new computer. She said, “I really like it, but it smells.” Obviously everyone at the table was a little shocked at her comment. What did that mean? How could a computer smell?
To Jobs credit, he looked into this strange accusation and sure enough the plastic they were using in their manufacturing process did have a smell to it. Now do you think Apple ever consciously thought about “smell” when they were designing their computer? Probably not. What if they had spent a few minutes forcing themselves to brainstorm each of the five senses individually looking for issue and ideas? Would they have caught the smell problem? Jobs and Apple later changed the plastic composition to one that did not have any noticeable smell to it. A costly change? Maybe.
Another example is a company called Infocus, who makes projectors. If you read about projectors in general, the two main features are weight and brightness. That’s it, besides price of course. But if you take a look at Infocus’ best selling projector, one of the main reasons customers buy it is because of the sound. Or better yet the lack of it. Their best selling model has a very quiet fan and is a hit with business customers because the projector is so quiet it doesn’t interfere with the phone speaker box during a teleconference. Do you think Infocus ever concentrated on sound when they designed this projector? They just got lucky. It seems the visual characteristics are the important features, right? But, customers are buying it for an entirely different reason. Why aren’t they promoting this feature in their ad campaigns?
Use your senses to your advantage. I’ll bet you can come up with some new and innovative ideas that you would have never thought of before if you only put your mind to it.