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The key to creativity

SPONSORED: Duncan Wardle uses a unique set of innovation tools to bring fun and breakthrough ideas to the not-for-profit sector

Duncan Wardle has spent more than two decades thinking outside of the box for companies like Ford, NBA and Coca-Cola and will bring his expertise to not-for-profits.

As the former Vice President of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, he was the man responsible for sending his son’s Buzz Lightyear into space to promote Toy Story 3.

As anyone who has witnessed one of Duncan’s TedX talks will testify, he uses a unique set of innovation tools and techniques to encourage people to act more audaciously to get through to breakthrough ideas. The best part? It’s all about having fun.

“How many of us are encouraged to be playful at work?” Duncan said. “For most, the answer is a definitive never. Yet, by invoking the power of play at the right time, you put your brain into its best state for having those big, incredible ideas.”

According to Duncan, there is a good reason for why the best ideas come to you when you’re in the shower, walking the dog or just about to drop off to sleep. It is the same reason why you don’t come up with the “killer one-liner” in the middle of an argument, but rather five minutes later.

“Being in an argument is similar to being in the office, and the killer one-liners are not accessible in either situation,” he said. “In the argument example, your brain was so busy defending your point of view that you couldn’t think of and seamlessly deliver that perfect response.

“In the office, you are likely busy reading emails, preparing presentations, attending meetings, scheduling diaries and internally monologuing about how ‘there’s no time to think’. When you don’t have time to think, you are of course rendered incapable of having that big idea.”

Duncan said that in most of any given day, people will only use their conscious brain, which represents just 13 per cent of the brain’s capacity. The other 87 per cent is the subconscious brain, which Duncan said goes unused due to stress.

“When the door is closed, access to all of that experiential and creative stimulus in the brain is denied, and thus, no big ideas.

“Every meal you’ve ever eaten, place you’ve ever visited, person you’ve ever met, book you’ve ever read, move you’ve seen; they’re all back there in your subconscious brain waiting to make unrelated connections back to the challenge at hand and to support the creation of that big innovation.”

According to Duncan, “playing” is the key to creativity as it accesses the “thoughtful” brain state: “It’s the stage just as you are nodding off but not yet in a deep sleep, or you are coming out of a deep sleep back into some level of consciousness.”

He adds that Thomas Edison was a “Thoughtful Theta”. The “when the penny drops” and “Eureka” moments comes from an experiment conducted by the inventor.

“To open the door between his conscious and subconscious brain just a little deeper, Edison would sit in an armchair and place a penny between his knees and a small tin tray on the floor below. As he nodded off to sleep, his muscles would relax and the penny would drop, hitting the tin tray and making enough noise to wake him up.

“He would immediately write down whatever he was thinking, and as you know, he went on to have more invention patents in the US than any other inventor in the 20th Century.”

Duncan looks to Mary Poppins for inspiration. In particular, it is her saying: “In every job that must be done, there’s an element of fun”.

“Innovation is thinking differently, which of course you simply cannot do if you’re always thinking the same,” Duncan said.

Duncan will appear at Hancock Creative’s ‘Change the World’ events across Australia in October. Specifically designed for not-for-profits and worthy causes, this free, all-day marketing summit is in Sydney on October 22, Brisbane on October 25 and Perth on October 29. Register here for your free ticket.

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