Report 103

Your newsletter on applied creativity, imagination, ideas and innovation in business.

Click to subscribe to Report 103

Wednesday 18 April 2012
Issue 207

Hello and welcome to another issue of Report 103, your twice-monthly (or thereabouts) newsletter on creativity, imagination, ideas and innovation in business.

As always, if you have news about creativity, imagination, ideas, or innovation please feel free to forward it to me for potential inclusion in Report103. Your comments and feedback are also always welcome.

Information on unsubscribing, archives, reprinting articles, etc can be found at the end of this newsletter.


Most articles in this issue of Report 103 can also be found in the archives together with dozens more articles, papers and thoughts.


In this issue of Report 103

  1. Become the Problem Innovation
  2. The Creative Pursuit of laziness
  3. Anti-Science Threatens America’s Innovation
  4. The Importance of Vacations
  5. Conceptual Conversations



I am on the social networks and would love to connect with you there.

Join me on my professional page on Facebook

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

And you can follow me on Twitter. I’m @creativejeffrey


Become the Problem Innovation

When we are trying to generate ideas in order to solve a problem, whether through anticonventional thinking, brainstorming or another method, we typically distance ourself slightly from the problem. We look for ideas on how to improve our company’s product, how to deliver better customer service, how to cut costs or alternative business models. In all of these cases, we separate ourselves from the problem and, by so doing, we potentially limit our understanding of the problem.

Why not take a different approach and become the problem? This is a fantastic way to see a problem (or a goal) from a new perspective gain deep insight and devise more innovative solutions.

Let us look at a few examples of how becoming the problem might work.

Become the Problem: the Product

For instance, if you are looking for ideas on how to improve your your company’s smart phone, become that phone! Imagine yourself being used to make telephone calls, find information, browse the web and so on. How do you feel about what you do? How do you feel about your owner? Why? If those feelings are negative, how might you make them positive? What would you like to be able to do for your owner? What would make you a happier telephone?

In a group of people, you can all become telephones. Get up. Move around. How do you interact with each other? How do you feel about it? How could it be better? In what new ways would you like to be able to interact.

Alternatively, you can become your customers using your telephone in various scenarios. How do you feel about the telephone? How does the telephone meet your wants and needs? What do you want to do with it? What else, unrelated to telephones, do you want to do now?

Better still, become the customer that does not want to buy your telephone. Why do you not want to buy it? What drives these feelings? What do you want to buy? Why?

Become the Problem: Cost Cutting

With a group of people, each of you become an aspect of your operations. In manufacturing, one person can be a product. One person can be a conveyor belt, one person can become a machine tool that assembles the product. One person can become the machine tool that packages the product and so on. Get up. Interact with each other. Feel your part of the production process. How do you feel about your role? Why? How could you feel better? How do you interact with other elements of the production line? How do you feel about each of them? Why? What are the problems? What are the weaknesses?

Become the Problem: Improve Sales Performance

Divide yourself into teams of about four people per team. On each team, two are customers and two are sales people. Act out the sales process. In particular, act out scenarios you have experienced where sales were not made. As the customer, how do you feel about the situation? Why did you not wish to buy the product? How do you feel about the product? If you have negative feelings, why? How do you feel about the sales people? What have they done that discouraged you from buying from them.

Now, take it one step further. Two people are your product and two people are the customer’s need. Move around. Interact. How do you feel about each other? Why? How easy is it to interact? What prevents or might prevent interaction? Does the customer’s problem really exist – or is it a figment of your company’s imagination?

Facilitating It

This kind of problem solving can be fun and insightful. Because you become the problem, or at least part of it, you see the problem from a very different perspective. However, it is far more complex to facilitate than ordinary anticonventional thinking or brainstorming. People need to be able to relax and put themselves in the frame of what they are becoming. For groups, in addition to a facilitator expert in running idea generation/problem solving activities, you should have someone able to facilitate the action of becoming the problem. A dance or acting instructor is ideal.


More information

If you are interested in exploring the possibilities of become the problem innovation, contact me.


The Creative Pursuit of Laziness

You start a new job with a new company. There are two employees in similar positions. They have both been with the company for several years. One is clearly hard working. She is constantly busy, juggles numerous tasks successfully and often stays late to get work done. The other seems much more relaxed. Indeed, she is often sharing jokes with her colleagues! She does not appear to work very hard, finishes tasks seemingly too quickly and is usually one of the first to leave the office at the end of the day. Which one should you emulate if you wish to do well in the company?



Anti-Science Threatens America’s Innovation

The biggest threat facing the future of America today is not the economy. It may be going through a bad spot. But it has done so in the past and will do so again in the future. It is not the growing divide between the rich and the poor. It is not the socialist president. As anyone who has ever experienced socialism knows, the current administration is far from that (indeed, by European standards, President Obama’s policies would put him in a conservative party). No. By far the biggest threat facing America’s future is the anti-science movement which is growing rapidly.

The anti-science movement is an unstructured but growing population of people who fail to understand the scientific method and, because they do not like a particular concept, choose to refute it. They are swayed by the beliefs of less than knowledgeable celebrities yet refuse to believe scientists who have spent years formally researching the concept.



The Importance of Vacations

Physical and mental vacations are critical to your well being, productivity and creativity

You may have noticed that not much was published here last week. That’s because I was on vacation in Rome with my two sons.

Rome is a stunningly beautiful city, rich in history, culture and art. Everywhere you turn, you see bits of ancient wall, incredibly beautiful fountains and impressive sculptures. Buildings hundreds of years old fill the city and line streets that have been around even longer. And Rome is not even Italy’s most beautiful city!

Curiously, in spite of all this inspiration – and I am a sucker for ruins, sculpture and painting – I hardly wrote a thing, few ideas were put into the Moleskine notebook I carry with me always and I experienced precious few inspirations. This inevitably happens to me when I travel on vacation. Nevertheless, it worries me.



Conceptual Conversations

When we in the business world are looking for creative ideas, there is a tendency to brainstorm or use another form of structured idea generation which aims to do precisely that: generate ideas. Moreover, thanks to the popularity of idea management and crowdsourcing software applications and the web, that can make those applications available just about everywhere, brainstorms need no longer be limited to a handful of people. Some crowdsourcing initiatives boast many 10,000s of users.

Sometimes, a simple conversation to thrash out ideas and develop solutions into concepts can be a far more effective approach to creativity and kicking off innovation.



Dump Your Consultants and Read the Way of the Innovation Master

I was told the other day that a reader of The Way of the Innovation Master found my book so useful, she didn’t need to hire a consultant to help launch the company’s innovation initiative.

If you want to know everything you need to know to set up an innovation initiative – in an innovative book on innovation, check out my book here...


Training and Speaking

Do you need an enthusiastic speaker or facilitator for a corporate event or training initiative? Do you want to turbocharge the creative potential of your team members or perhaps your entire company?

I can help. Learn more at



You can find this and every issue of Report 103 ever written at our archives.

Happy thinking!

Jeffrey Baumgartner


Report 103 is a complimentary eJournal from Bwiti bvba of Belgium (a company: Archives and subscription information can be found at

Report 103 is edited by Jeffrey Baumgartner and is published on a monthly basis.

You may forward this copy of Report 103 to anyone, provided you forward it in its entirety and do not edit it in any way. If you wish to reprint only a part of Report 103, please contact Jeffrey Baumgartner.

Contributions and press releases are welcome. Please contact Jeffrey in the first instance.



Return to top of page


Creative Jeffrey logo

Jeffrey Baumgartner
Bwiti bvba

Erps-Kwerps (near Leuven & Brussels) Belgium




My other web projects

My other web projects 100s of articles, videos and cartoons on creativity - possibly useful things I have learned over the years. reflections on international living and travel. - paintings, drawings, photographs and cartoons by Jeffrey