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I got curious as to how they found things. I wondered, how do they know where to go? Can they tell each other where food is, like bees can? Do they have any sense of geometry? Each question was a well he needed to pump until it was dry.


For them, beauty is the gateway to truth. They are willing to wait, to breathe, to anticipate the experience of nature, and to find inspiration. Beauty feeds the creative soul. Beauty will become a beacon to guide your creative spirit. Now it may seem strange to talk about slowing down and standing in awe of beauty in a book about business, but the truth is, those who find creative breakthroughs at work are tuned in to these ethereal concepts. Mastering the Observer at Work Before Howard Schultz became the CEO of Starbucks, he was a salesman for a housewares company called Hammarplast, which sold a cone-shaped coffee filter with an attached Thermos.

Popular for brewing coffee in Europe, these filters had yet to catch on in the United States. However, Schultz noticed a curious detail. One small retailer in Seattle was selling an inordinate number of these items. Why would one customer require so many cones and thermoses? He pursued his question and flew to Seattle to investigate Starbucks, then a small coffee retailer selling a lot of brewing paraphernalia. Enchanted with the concept of fresh-roasted, high-quality coffee, Schultz bought the fledgling bean retailer and eventually introduced the concept of gourmet coffee bars across America and around the world.

He loved to draw cartoons and characters, yet his colleagues were interested in animation.

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He was curious about how animation worked. He spent his outside time learning from his friends how movies were made. The artist just did his work and turned it over to the cameraman to photograph. So I learned.

What can I learn from it? Be sure to let that curiosity travel with you.


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Lani is a territory manager for a company that sells foam insulation. Her customer wanted to ship lamp shades across the world, and it was imperative that they arrive in perfect condition. Lani suggested packaging and shipping ten lamp shades from ten different locations all over the globe to the company headquarters to see if the material would be suitable for the job. When the lamp shades returned, they were all in perfect condition. They were not bent or injured, and even when the box was damaged, the lamp shades looked great.

However, one detail bothered Lani. When she opened the box shipped from Mexico, there was an unpleasant fume, a chemical scent. I had to get to the bottom of this weird smell. She took the insulation material to the engineering department, and when they tested the insulation in extreme heat and humidity, it began to fume.

Her test revealed a problem that could have been disastrous for this client. Curious George is a monkey who gets in trouble because he is so curious. He investigates everything that piques his interest. For instance, Observers get in trouble in book stores. They may even buy too many books. Try these excercises to get your curiosity out of jail: 1. Become a Curious George. Exercise your natural curiosity. Begin to wonder why. Why now?

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  8. Observe your customers. You may be able to unearth something no one else has thought about. He noticed an espresso bar while on a walk in Milan. Sometime later he noticed another and another. Our business genius is just below the surface when we make big ideas from small ingredients. Their Observer curiosity was piqued. Each noticed data, connected the dots, and exploited the idea before anyone else did. When you become alert to the small things, genius ideas are born.

    They are only interested in details as ingredients of a new idea. Your key to the Observer skill is knowing when and where to use it.

    The five faces of Genius

    The smart Observer knows what data to collect and when to turn off the radar. The goal is to be able to float between looking for details and appreciating the macroperspective. Try these exercises now: 1. Learn to selectively slow down. Choose times you will intentionally work slowly and notice small things. Choose a specific area of your work—say, while you are in staff meetings, or during a customer visit, or while you write a weekly report.

    Choose a time that has potential for inspiration.

    The Five Faces of Genius: Creative Thinking Styles to Succeed at Work

    Selectively slowing down means keeping your antennae tuned to creative detail that may be surfacing. During this interval, let yourself notice little clues. You will discover a whole basket of stimuli that could become a creative new idea. Practice hypothesizing. Choose a current situation at work and ask yourself what could the details mean?

    What larger issues do these details reflect?

    Creativity In The Workplace - What You Should Know

    Give yourself lots of options. Create three or four ideas about what the details mean.

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    Use these hypotheses as the foundation of your ideas. Try to connect the dots. Our creative strength depends on occasionally dipping into the water of details. A market with a small sales decrease. An overheard conversation. An offhand competitor comment. After a while we become seasoned. We become business artists.