Why Think Organically?

April 16, 2012 2 Comments by Anthony

No, I’m not writing this post from the produce department at Whole Foods, but I am thinking organically.

When I sat down to write this week’s post, it was supposed to be about strategic thinking, and was titled “Get Out of The Woods.” When I decided to write this blog last fall, I made a promise to myself not to force ideas onto the page, but rather capture ideas that were flowing out of my mind, and share them with the world (or at least the Twin Cities).

What does this have to do with you the reader? A lot!

Why you need to think organically
Where do great ideas come from? How do they appear? Having a 45 minute roundtable/brainstorming session is a good start, using a white-board to make words into visuals will also help. Where I see people stumble time after time is when it comes to, time.

You see, often we only let ideas marinate for a microsecond in the creative incubator (our mind) and then move on. For myself, and for many creative thinkers I’ve spoken with, truly great ideas hit us when we are thinking about anything but the concept we are trying to innovate, or problem we are trying to solve.

Great ideas take time, they need to hatch slowly when they are ready. This process is cleverly depicted in a visual lecture by Steven Johnson called “Where good Ideas Come From” – powerful stuff.

Are you creative?
Without question, yes, you are! Well, sort of (que Debbie Downer sound effect). Ok, here’s the deal. Creativity has a lot more to do with situation and environment, than it does with the people involved. Step into any creative agency and you’ll quickly see what I’m talking about. Look past the nifty brainstorming room filled with bright colors, Slinky’s, Koosh Balls and bean bag chairs – that is part of it. I’m talking about a place where people feel safe enough to take a risk in front of their peers.

Clearly, some people seem to be more creative than others, I would say this is true. I would also say that my friend Peter who runs several marathons a year and gets up at 5:00am to train every morning is a better running than I am. Of course he’s a better runner, he diligently practices his craft. I don’t log miles and miles on the pavement, my “running muscles” are not as toned as his are. It should be no surprise that people who use their “creative muscles” regularly seem to be more creative than the lot.

Be creative already! Organically.
In my first post I promised readers hands on methods for creative thinking and ideation. So…here are five fundamental traits of a successful innovation session:

  1. Laugh, a lot: Have you laughed today? Ok, laugh a few times…rinse, recycle, repeat. Humor kicks out endorphins which are creative steroids. Need help? Ok…. Click here —–> Boston Terrier Belly Rub
  2. Team up: Two heads are better than one. Even if many of us grew up in the same geographic area, we all bring a life-time of unique experiences. Tap into them. Plus, once you’re done brainstorming you can “chest bump” your friend – see number 1.
  3. Obsess: Don’t move to the south of France and cut your ear off. Do, realize that your first idea is almost never the best one. I know, I know…you may think you “have it” on the first try. What you have is “good,” go back to the drawing board a few more times if you want “great.”
  4. Get out: Get out of the office. Go for a walk. Go for a run. Travel the world if you can afford it! Leave your problem alone and get away from yourself so your mind can be creative.
  5. Pass it on: Do a good turn for someone without them knowing. For two reasons, 1) Your mother taught you right 2) More endorphins from this good deed will free up your brain.

Some of you may be thinking, “isn’t this just idealistic mumbo jumbo, I have a company to run, who has time for this creative stuff?” The answer is, yes, you do. Be creative now and take a few “safe risks,” or perish a slow, un-creative death when your customers find other companies with creative products and services. If you don’t believe me, ask Wall Street if creativity is rewarded in today’s business environment.

There you have it, “organic thinking” in a nutshell. Go forth and create excellence in ideation!

But before you go…I ask, what’s on your mind?
When was the last time you felt creative or inspired?


  1. Elizabeth Chapin
    10 years ago

    Great ideas do take time – thanks for the reminder. Just the other day someone said, “Haven’t you been working on that book for a long time?” Yes, I have. But it’s worth waiting for the idea to grow and become better than just a good idea.

    You ask when was the last time I felt creative or inspired – it seems I’m inspired by something or get a new idea about something almost everyday but it can sometimes be overwhelming. I created a garden folder on my computer to plant some of my idea seeds – but too often the seeds just get buried in the recesses of my mind. Perhaps they will bloom someday when the environment is right to sustain their growth.

    • Anthony
      10 years ago

      Elizabeth, glad you found value in my post! I love the idea of a “garden folder”…so true. It’s easy for things to get buried in our minds and under our desks, need to keep our life in balance so we can be on the top of our game!

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