Today, it is with much excitement that I present to you Marelisa Fábrega. Marelisa has been a constant supporter and friend here at “The Jungle of Life” for the past year, and was one of my early visitors when I first started out. Her articles are always thought-provoking and with a real focus on each of us finding abundance, in all it’s forms, in our lives.
One area of interest for Marelisa is exploring ways to spark the creativity muse in all of us. She has created a wonderful ebook, filled with nearly 100 pages of techniques to use when your creative side could use a little spark. This handbook has something for everyone, and is a tool you’ll come back to over and over. For more information on this great resource, please check out:
Marelisa is a constant source of such positive and uplifting material. You can keep up with her by visiting her blog, Abundance Blog at Marelisa Online. For regular updates, subscribe to her RSS feed and follow along with her on Twitter.
Today we’re flipping things around. Read along, as Marelisa talks about…
“We are all cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” ~ Ray Bradbury
Ian Ayers—author of the bestseller “Super Crunchers”—and Barry Nalebuff, both Yale Professors, co-authored a book called “Why Not: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small”, in which they insist that creativity is a skill that can be taught. An interesting technique that they propose in their book for coming up with new ideas is to constantly ask the following question: “would flipping it work?” I found an excellent video in which Barry talks about the book, and presents some interesting examples of how the concept of “flipping it” can lead to very creative solutions. Below you’ll find some of these examples:
The Upside-Down Christmas Tree
Christmas is the favorite holiday of the year for a lot of people, and decorating the tree is a beloved Christmas tradition. However, having a tree decorated with ornaments standing in the middle of one’s living room is not all fun and games; here are some of the problems that are often encountered with a traditional Christmas tree:
• It takes up a lot of floor space.
• Small children are always reaching for the tree ornaments.
• There’s never enough space under the tree for all of the presents.
• Pets are constantly running around the tree knocking off the ornaments.
So how can these problems be solved? With an upside-down Christmas tree. You can hang it from a bracket on the ceiling like a chandelier, stand it upside-down on a tree stand, or mount it tip-down on the wall. Some people even consider that you can better display tree ornaments with an upside-down Christmas tree, since it’s easier to place the ornaments at eye- level and they don’t get lost in the foliage.
Organ Donation: Flip the Default to Opt-Out
Barry explains that there are over 90,000 people on the waiting list for organs in the United States. Some of these people die before organs become available. Why does the US have such a long waiting list for organs? Because there’s not enough people who are contributing. The US uses an opt-in method for organ donation: unless someone signs a “Uniform Organ Donor Card”, their organs cannot be used. And not enough people sign these cards.
The flip of opt-in, of course, is opt-out; the proposal is to change the system so that people’s organs are donated unless they sign a form to opt-out. Many countries in Europe, including Spain, France, and Belgium, have opt-out organ donation programs. By changing from an opt-in to an opt-out program, these European countries have eliminated their organ waiting list.
Pension Plans and Bananas
Although this isn’t one of the examples used by Barry in his talk, in 2006 Congress passed “The Pension Protection Act” which allows employers to enroll new employees in 401K plans automatically, unless the employee chooses to opt-out. That is, instead of asking: “How can we overcome the inertia of employees and get them to enroll in a 401K plan?”, they flipped the situation by allowing employers to create automatic opt-in plans.
For one last flip, Barry argues that the best way to peel a banana is hold it with the stem/handle pointing down, pinch the tip, and then peel downward toward the stem. Although this is the opposite of how most people peel a banana, it’s how monkeys do it (the experts), you don’t have to deal with banana strings, and you can conveniently hold the banana by the stem as you eat it.
As you can see from the four examples explained above, flipping the problem can be used to solve problems both big—organ donation and 401K plans—and small—Christmas trees and bananas. In addition, people have a tendency to get complacent and to do things in the way in which they’ve always been done, without stopping to think if there might be a better way to do them. So, how are you going to use the “flip it” creativity technique to solve your everyday problems and help change the world?