Articulating how I think
Johnny Carson once told Steve Martin: “You will use everything you know.” In his book Born Standing Up, Steve Martin details how this came true throughout his career. One example is that he learned rope lasso tricks while working at Disneyland as a teenager, and performed them in ¡Three Amigos! about 25 years later.
That’s how I felt this past month pitching for strategy and innovation consulting work. I’m diving back into my kitbag and brushing off some of the old activities, skills and mental models I’ve learned over the past 20-something years since I started university.
I’m a connector
According to the Clifton Strengths profile my top 5 strengths include learning, input and ideation. What this means in practice is that things get funnelled into my brain and get remixed. I connect things that may not be obvious.
A simple example: Years ago my RSS feed was made up of webcomics and food blogs. That source material got blended up and poured out into the world as Food Scene Investigation: a restaurant review blog by a fictional food detective, in comic panel style with narration and speech bubbles, and jokes in the mouseover text.
I do the same thing with frameworks and mental models
I’ve ingested a lot of frameworks and philosophies over the years from many, many fields: from improvisation to project management to curriculum design to innovation strategy. I boiled down and mashed together an entire MBA innovation subject into a single Innovation Diagnostic tool.
My brain remixes all of these different ideas when I’m applying it to a new problem.