Marilyn Schoeman Dow
What do you do when you need
to get the creative juices flowing, and there's no time to prime the pump?
How can you get the ideas - quickly - for landing a client, creative an ad,
Improving the product, process or service?
So far, there's no in-house Inspiration Station. You can't just hook up your
head to electrodes and suddenly and predictably produce creative brain wave
- loaded with ideas likely to be trendsetters and benchmarks.
However, creating a product to help people thing creatively - instantly -
is the challenge I've been struggling with for more than a decade. The early
years of research and product design efforts resulted in The Idea Generator.
The charts work well - and quickly - for many, but not everyone. Using the
product itself, along with customer feedback, led to the next generation,
The Idea Activator. It added an interactive element and more tools, produced
on a Rolodex-style base.
This also worked well, but not with everyone. Continuing the search for ways
to help anyone think creatively - on demand - my efforts were redirected to
totally different format - a game. After a great deal of development time
and focus-group work, the third generation was born. It finally accomplishes
the original goal with almost everyone.
It began as one - then became three - wall charts. They contain a problem-solving
process and an organized system for gaining ideas from nearly 600 versatile
thought-starters. Combinations yield many more.
The new game\tool is a card deck, BOFFO-O!tm (Brain O Fast Forward), The Problem
Solver's System. It works quickly, easily and powerfully. Of the three, this
version is the smallest, most interactive, versatile, comprehensive, portable,
practical - and fun. It also has the lowest price (and the most complex production
process!) - with the most profound long-term results.
The critical difference between BOFF-O! and the earlier versions is the inclusion
of two new elements. Revisions, based on feedback, moved the process from
abstract to very concrete. That became the breakthrough to make the process\tool
easily and readily understood.
Individuals and small groups use the deck for meetings, consultation, retreats
and training session. In a Houston presentation for several hundred, I only
needed about two minutes to introduce the process on the screen. Almost immediately,
people began popping up with new ideas.
One of the participants got so excited she didn't even wait for the group
response. She jumped up and loudly and proudly announced, "I picked the 'Launcher'
of SUITCASE and the 'Booster' of MAKE SECURE. And here's My 'AHA!: Make a
voice-activated security system for suitcases. If someone tries to take your
bag at the airport, their voice won't match yours, so the suitcase shouts,
"Help! I'm being stolen!"' That ought to cut down on theft, and it should
be a marketable idea!"
Many people play it first as a game. Then they apply it as a tool to gain
new insights and options for identified challenges, and to discover others.
An association used BOFF-O to find ways to increase their membership. One
engineer shared his idea, "I took the 'Launcher' of TRUMPET and the 'Booster'
of CHANGE COATING. That made me think of an AHA! For our 'Target' of meeting
planning. Let's coat them with music. Get a live musician at each meeting,
featuring a different instrument each time." People quickly responded favorably
to the concept and began exploring that possibility.
Webster defines "boffo" as a play, movie, song, etc., that is a great popular
success, a hit. The name seems a perfect fit - both for meaning and the acronym.
A series of fits preceded the term. Creating and effective name - period -
let alone one that could be traded marked - required patience, research and
After pausing a few moments to celebrate the fact that the concept really
works, marketing and the next development cycle are underway. Several new
decks, related products and a book are in progress. One exciting difference
that makes the next challenge more appealing is knowing at the outset that
the fundamental process - the foundation - is solid.
Client response has become a source of encouragement. Their strong positive
reaction helped maintain my motivation and led to crucial product refinement
well. All else aside, perseverance remains one of the most critical elements
in taking a product - or goal - from inspiration to reality.
Owner of ThinkLink and past-president
of the American Creativity Association, Marilyn promotes innovative action,
teambuilding and managing change in keynotes, coaching and seminars. Her
products include BOFF-O!® (Brain On Fast Forward) problem solving deck/system.
For information about presentations
and strategizing sessions, contact Ms. Dow at ThinkLink in Seattle, WA
by email or by calling 206-200-7212