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Jumpstart Innovation with Adventurous Thinking

Lesson 34 of 37

Creativity before Capital

Sally Dominguez

Jumpstart Innovation with Adventurous Thinking

Sally Dominguez

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Lesson Info

34. Creativity before Capital

Lesson Info

Creativity before Capital

It's really about the creativity of it all, and also of the realizing. So the whole thing about innovation is you can have a million and two crazy ideas, but they remain crazy ideas until you have purposeful creativity. Which would mean, then, you push it into the innovation stage. And innovation is realizing the value of something. Actually realizing it so you can come to the conclusion that it's valuable. But then if you want innovation, you actually make it so. And you make it valuable to other people. Somehow, right? That is the magic little piece. But before we talk about creativity before capital, which is a key part of the way I practice innovation and the way moving forward, I believe most of us will practice innovation. I have an awesome quote from my son that made us prompt you to think in even more ever decreasing circles and that is this, "Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish "by its ability to climb a tree, "it will go through it's whole life believing it is stup...

id." Think about that. The misuse of expertise, that poor fish, another Einstein classic. In fact, I mean basically you could read Einstein all day and you'd have an entire workshop just called I read Einstein. So creativity before capital is key. Because what it's about in Lein or in Japanese it's called (speaks foreign language). Your mind before your wallet. So we've come through this crazy funding stage, particularly in the Bay Area where I live, but also actually in Australia, where I also sometimes live, of people throwing crazy amounts of money behinds ideas that look fantastic. You know, everybody, I mean, it's a great thing that if you have an idea that sounds fantastical, there are often many people who think it's a great idea to throw money at it. You know, and that can be fantastic, but it can also be extraordinarily wasteful. And what I've always found when I've developed products is, and in our discussion with the students in between lessons on how do you get an idea up, often its, well, how easily can you make a proof of concept prototype? How easily can you make something that basically demonstrates the working of it to other people? You know, 'cause that would be stage one. If you need a ton of money to even bring that thing off the ground, so perhaps it's a medical innovation or something that requires, say, injection molding versus roto molding. You're gonna have to come up with either a compromise or leave that idea be. So creativity before capital is a key part of getting ideas up quickly. It's that idea of failing fast, right? It's the idea that you get something out there and discover very quickly it's not gonna work, not put a ton of money behind it and discover very quickly that it's not gonna work. So I have an example that people that have read any sort of tech or designary stuff may already know about. But I'm gonna hit you with it. And it's interesting, I became aware of this product when I was asked to go and work with a big appliance company in Australia. They asked me to come and work on a pipeline of products around the future of juicing. So, they'd already been pioneers in juicing, and I'm a bit of a fan of juicing. So I said, "Yeah, no worries. "I'll do a bit of research." And, in fact, I decided that the future of juicing was in fact powderizing vegetables and fruit and then owning this incredible micronutrient in powder form to be added into the foods, but that was a bit extreme for those guys. These guys were very thick sighted on a new innovation that had just been funded to the tune of 120 million in Silicon Valley. It was known as, as many things, the Apple computer of juicing, it was called Juicero. And this thing looked beautiful, it did. They sent me all these photos of this beautiful thing and said, you know, these guys already have 120 mill in funding. They've got a whole system, they've worked out this awesome repeating system, which is always the golden goose. Where you subscribe and every month you get sent these packets of stuff, micronutrients, and then this amazing, beautiful white juicer. Costs $400, but you had this whole system of payment. Would then crush with great designer a plume said bag that was delivered to you everyday. Would crush it and would deliver you the juice. So, 120 mill, the thing is quite expensive also. $400. However, in the excitement to fund up Juicero and put the systems in place, and in the numerous articles that wrote about how incredible it was that they'd come up with a system not only of juicing, but also of having the juice packets delivered every month, because that was the way you had returning revenue. It was only late in the pace that somebody realized that in fact you could get the juice out of the packet squeezing it with your hand. This immaculate piece of design was in fact completely worthless. You could have just ordered the packets and squeezed them like a normal squeezy cloth. Tricky. Company is now out of business. 120 million. So this is an example of capital before creativity. In terms of, everybody was so seduced by the design and it happens so often. So seduced by this beautiful thing, and everybody is constantly. Even now. Looking for the next Apple in any product, I think. Right? We're all looking for the next thing that has this amazing design, that is so impactful that it really changes the way people think about that area or that sector. But everybody still wants to do it. This was not it. Juicero died a sorry death. But it just pointed out to me, I thought about the products I've developed and the fact that, you know, my Nest high chair, when I first developed it, the model was literally an egg cup with a slice of lemon that I'd sort of manipulated around because I didn't know how to draw in 3D. I'm a hand drawing type of gal. And then I went out to the factory and sort of found bits if plastic and formed them into the shape to see if it would work. You know, often people will make things, mock-ups in cardboard. Especially furniture, why not? You know? So the idea of creativity before capital is a really important one, because it enable you to realize ideas and also sift through them. You know, if you require, and some things do require a ton of capital, but if you can somehow make a working prototype that doesn't require a ton of capital, you're way ahead of the game. Because really we don't want waste, right? We don't want to roll down the road and spend 120 mill. And then work out that something could have been done by hand. So, it's, again, that type of thinking. We don't want to settle for what we know. We actually have to push a bit harder. If you have an idea, the next stage of that is how can I make that happen with as few resources as possible? Can I make that in cardboard? Could like interpretive dance how it works, if it's a system or a structure. Can I sketch it or draw it or how am I gonna communicate that thing? And then how am I gonna realize that either at a smaller scale or in that idea that we talked about earlier, a minimum viable product, how can I get some sort of smaller version working thing to get it up? And a friend of mine once said, a super successful online guy said, "What's amazing right now is it's easier and cheaper "than ever to test a product." Like, on his, to be fair to him, he was talking about products you could sell online or mainly online concepts. He's an online guy. But he said, "Honestly, you buy a website, "you put the product up with a little blurb. "You buy some search optimization words "and then you see, are people interested or not?" It's a much easier way to go out there than spend a ton of money on market research, which might be dated by the time you have it. So creativity before capital is a key concept in adventurous thinking. Adventurous thinking is all about being on the edge, right? That state of bearable discomfort. So before you spend the money on anything, on any idea, or any process, or any improvement, spend five minutes going, but if I don't have the money, how can I still make it happen? What could I do? You know, we were talking to Dan Clinston, the toy guy, yesterday about the amazing cardboard arcade that was done by a kid. I don't know whether anybody ever saw it online, but it became a YouTube sensation. This kid made this amazing cardboard arcade and everything in the arcade, he was behind it working everything by hand. But no one was coming through until a video guy saw it by chance, saw that it was empty and went, what a cool story. Made a video, which then became a viral sensation. And of course, creativity before capital is taking full advantage of the fact that you can become a viral sensation and not spend money. You know, editorial is also a way to be creative without spending money. In fact, all of my products, I never advertised, I never board advertising, and I never asked for advertising, but I had a really nice set of photos that I traded with a friend for a high chair and it went all over the world. Because I had these great photos and because it sort of sold itself. It was a really interesting thing, but it went viral because I had a great set of photos. So always think about creativity before capital. Think about making something in cardboard or making something in a prototype stage to test it and demonstrate it and activate people with it before you spend money on tools. And in fact, when I was doing my Nest high chair, and again when I did my Rainwater HOG tank, everybody told me on this high chair that all baby furniture had to be injection molded. Now, injection molding, the game has changed now and you can actually injection mold, you can actually 3D print an injection molding tool at a fraction of the price of an actual tool and create something quite cheaply. But back in the day, injection molding really took anything I wanted to realize out of my reach. So I turned to rotational molding, which was then an industrial product and playground equipment type of plastic. And I rolled to the factory, the baby under my arm and said, "You know, I've gotta realize this baby seat, "this sort of 3D thing. "I really wanted to injection mold it, "but I don't really understand that anyway "and I certainly don't understand roto, "but how would I do it? "Because I know I can afford the tool." And in doing this, in transferring what I had to do into a tool that I could afford, I actually invented a new finish in plastic. Which was cool and totally by accident. And could have failed, right? But this idea of creativity before capital, again, giving yourself limitations, not just going for the big spin, but curtailing it and thinking really hard about how could I realize that with no money? Because then you start thinking about who do I know, who can help me? And most people do want to help you. That is creativity before capital, a key part of the adventurous thinking mindset. Because keeping it snappy and not complacent. Money is too easy. Don't make it easy.

Class Description

The rise of design thinking has revolutionized the way we solve problems—helping us open our minds, embrace our imaginations and be more innovative. But what if we could take the design thinking process to an even higher level? What if we could be less reactive and more proactive in our thinking?

Award-winning inventor, journalist, educator and speaker Sally Dominguez created the adventurous thinking methodology to promote an agile mindset, which is necessary for consistently innovative practices. Even the best of us can get stuck in our default “expert” neural pathways. Adventurous thinking helps us get out of those ruts, reignite our curiosity and tap into the underutilized parts of our brains.

This two-day course introduces the Five Lenses—negative space, parkour, thinking sideways, thinking backwards and rethinking—which Sally has used to help some of the biggest corporations, organizations and government agencies throughout the world integrate innovation into their work. By the end, you’ll have the tools you need to transform your thought processes and explore true innovation.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Harness your curiosity to think outside the probable and explore the possible.
  • Use multiple perspectives to achieve a deeper understanding.
  • Experience “bearable discomfort” to force your neural pathways to open up.
  • Disregard small daily failures at home and at work.
  • Get your radical ideas accepted by others.
  • Know what you don’t want and why that’s important.


Ivana Vucinic

This class is truly AMAZING! It is really unique and it got me thinking in new and innovative ways. Very much out of the box thinking! Makes you become courageous, Well done, Sally!!!

Sukey Dominguez

Jumpstart Innovation with Adventurous Thinking exceeded my expectations! Sally brought practical tools that, "lenses" to flip every situation inside out and find the possibilities in every situation. As one who works to lead teams, healthcare providers facing incredible demands to achieve results in population health / ultimately global health and the wellness of business operations, I'm thrilled to have found this course. Design is one thing, taking risk is another. I'm inspired by Sally because she drives energy to see what CAN be in the future. This is a unique class and I look forward to her next offering.