When was the last time you truly came up with a great idea? An idea which changed the direction of your sector, never mind your company? Now, Manchester is known as a creative city, and Cornerhouse is justly famous as a creative hub and a hothouse of ideas, and I look forward to raising these issues in this context. What I believe is that while the discussion on the creative economy is one of the more important ones for our age, we must do a lot more than merely treating creativity as some cute and fuzzy set of pleasant ideas that can be easily integrated into existing structures. Instead, I feel we need to re-discover creativity as a radical force — one which may well evoke feelings of danger and the unseemly rather than having people lazily nodding along. In other words, creativity as grime and punk rather than muzak, and what better place to bring this out than Cornerhouse?
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By Alf Rehn. First published in Swedish, it went on to become something of a bestseller, and was translated into English, Russian, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Finnish. So in late I bought back the rights to the English-language translation, with my mind set on freeing the book.
A quick remark about the book, and about seeing it again after a few years. For me, re-reading the book was both fun and bitter-sweet. The key to this book is an idea that is stated throughout the book, but in a roundabout way, and I wanted to here state it in the most explicit way possible:. This book is mainly about how YOU look at and use the word creativity.
It goes through a lot of stuff, but this is the thing that it always comes back to. For regardless who you are, you have ideas about creativity. Sometimes, these ideas become stale, taken for granted, set in their ways. Mine do too.
So this book is about looking at the way we talk about creativity, about listening to ourselves when we proclaim someone or something as being creative, and paying heed to how this too can become ritual and routine. If, after reading it, you the next time you refer to something as creative pause for just a second to consider what drove you to do so, I feel that this has all been meaningful.
Quite the contrary: It will be a little bit angry, and a little bit contrarian, and you might find parts of it uncomfortable and troublesome. In fact, I hope you do. The company was an also-ran, a marginal player that had focused on a disposable video camera. This had been sold in collaboration with a chain of pharmacies, building on the business model of disposable cameras, and had been a modest success in its niche. It was a modest product from a modest company: nothing to be ashamed of, but neither revolutionary nor particularly innovative.
Still, the company had bigger plans. One day, they decide to test something new, namely a proper video camera. But there was a problem. This is a situation that many companies will recognize. In the rat race of competition, some will always find themselves left behind when it comes to developing better products.
What is the point of developing a brilliant idea when you know it will be picked up by the competition? Oh, and good ideas are often really, really expensive So what did Pure Digital Technologies do? In hindsight, it was simple, even obvious. This might seem like an odd thing to want to do, but it just happened to be genius, a truly dangerous idea whose time had come.
Pure Digital had noticed that older, somewhat less developed methods to capture digital video had become cheap, as most companies were obsessing over the newest and best technologies.
This led to a situation where you could buy the basic technology for capturing rather grainy video for a pittance. Instead, their product only had the bare essentials — a button for recording, another for playing, one more for erasing and very little else. The only extra was an integrated USB port for attaching it directly to a computer. It was small, cheap, insanely simple to use and thus perfect both for the YouTube-generation and for people who thought normal video cameras were too complicated, not to mention expensive.
In September the slightly more developed Flip Ultra was released, and immediately became one of the best-selling video cameras in the world. And the company? Not bad for a marginal player with a technically sub-standard product. One easily misses the important point of this little story. And we often forget another thing. The problem is not in the knowledge we have, but in how we imagine utilizing this knowledge.
The truth is, the rest of the industry did not look at the Flip and curse itself for not having created it. On the contrary! They thought that the Flip was disgusting. If this strikes you as odd, imagine yourself as a specialist in video cameras. Your entire working life has been an education in improving and developing them, giving the customer the very best video camera you can make. Would you be annoyed? Of course you would! This new thing would be in conflict with everything you represent, with everything you believe in.
In fact, it would probably feel more than a little threatening. In much the same way that low-cost airline Ryanair managed to annoy the airline industry by removing every last vestige of service, and do so in a sensational fashion, the Flip represented an idea that was seen as dangerous in its context.
We often imagine creativity as something that is pleasant, fun and lovely, and that good ideas are such that everyone smiles encouragingly when confronted with them. But this is a lie and a misunderstanding. On the contrary, real creativity tends to be a little dangerous, threatening, in your face. People in the video camera business tried to be creative and think outside of the box.
But as none of this helped them handle ideas that were uncomfortable or threatening, the nasty surprise that was the Flip caught them unawares. So the Flip was not a good idea, but a dangerous one, and the way it made industry people uncomfortable was its greatest triumph. This notion of creativity has become a neutered and diluted concept.
Instead, this book deals with how you can develop dangerous thinking. Books on creativity tend to be repetitive affairs, going through the same old stories and repeating the same tired sentiments. They tend to be obsequious things, dedicated to feel-good soppiness. This book tries to do something a little different. It will confront uncomfortable matters, things that feel as troublesome to us as the Flip must have felt to its competitors.
The reason for this is simple: it is when we are forced far — really far — out of our comfort zone that we can find the radically new, the dangerous, the things that question the status quo. Change is never a comfortable, painless process, and neither is serious creativity. Despite this, creativity is often talked about as though it were a harmless teddy bear, a cute and fuzzy concept that we can all embrace effortlessly.
This book wants to annihilate that myth. Those people who challenge the way we act and think — in a business, in an industry or in society — have all been individuals who have found ways to take thinking just that one step further.
This is not the same thing as creativity , not in the limited sense of the word. This is something far more radical. But how can you discover these opportunities for radical breaks?
Let us begin by going through the basics of this process — from imitating creativity to practicing dangerous thinking. The main problem with creativity is that human beings are innately good at imitating.
And things get real tricky when you start to realize that even the literature on creativity is mostly a question of imitating and copying other literature on creativity.
It is in our nature to imitate: if we see a good idea our subconscious immediately sets out to replicate it. Even if it is an idea about creativity! In the video industry they had found a specific way to be creative, which hinged on adding more and more functions and design flourishes. There was a clear picture of what creativity was, and everyone tried to live up to this.
A great deal of creative work today, particularly in corporations and books on creativity , is stuck in this phase. Books on creativity tend to be about history and what worked earlier, and companies just sit there and listen. At the same time, the true innovators are already off, exploring strange, new trajectories.
Sometimes, we think that the way out of imitation is expansion , i. So we study other areas, collect more information, seek out more solutions. Many companies do this exceptionally well, and have gained a lot by doing so. Curiously enough, there are quite a few creativity pundits that myopically praise expansion. The problem here is that expansion, in itself, still takes place within our given framework — a little like improvising around a plan.
Companies often like the comfort of this, as it is safe and well-known, and since it creates the feeling that the core is still intact and controllable. We rarely reflect on the history of new business models, but these are often born out of something much more radical than just expansion.
IKEA, the dominant giant of the global furniture industry, was one such radical break. When IKEA introduced the concept of cheap, DIY furniture, it did so in an industry that had expanded its horizons for a hundred years — new designers, new materials, new kinds of furniture. But no one had dared to think dangerously about the basic logic behind the product and the business idea itself. IKEA did so, and just like in the case of the Flip video camera, the reaction from the industry was one of shock and disbelief — even disgust.
Upload Sign In Join. Create a List. Download to App. Length: pages 3 hours. Description Dangerous Ideas is a bestselling book on creativity for people who do not like books on creativity. Written by Alf Rehn and translated to eight languages including Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Italian , it challenges the overly positive manner in which creativity is often presented and argues for a broader understanding of the phenomenon — including paying attention to disgusting, childish and unseemly things.
For only by daring to push far beyond the realm of the serious and the proper can you truly challenge a business, a system, or yourself. Related Categories. The key to this book is an idea that is stated throughout the book, but in a roundabout way, and I wanted to here state it in the most explicit way possible: This book is mainly about how YOU look at and use the word creativity.
fool (with a plan)
Innovation and creativity are all the buzz. He works hard to keep us thinking creatively about creative thinking. I found it a straightforward and good read. It flows well and moves right along, which is a bit of a rarity amongst business books with substance.
Dangerous Ideas: When Provocative Thinking Is Your Most Valuable Asset
By Alf Rehn. First published in Swedish, it went on to become something of a bestseller, and was translated into English, Russian, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Finnish. So in late I bought back the rights to the English-language translation, with my mind set on freeing the book. A quick remark about the book, and about seeing it again after a few years. For me, re-reading the book was both fun and bitter-sweet. The key to this book is an idea that is stated throughout the book, but in a roundabout way, and I wanted to here state it in the most explicit way possible:. This book is mainly about how YOU look at and use the word creativity.