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Innovation Insights
by Stephen Shapiro

The Magic of Innovation

In a previous blog entry, I discussed why watching “Pitchmen” (the Discovery TV show) can give you ideas on how to create more marketable solutions.  [Sadly Billy Mays, the show’s co-star, passed away the other day]

It is time to admit another guilty pleasure of mine.  I also like to watch “Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed.” For those of you not familiar with the show, there is a “masked magician” who reveals how various magic tricks are done.

I treat this show like 60 minutes of brain teasers.

First, the trick is shown as it is seen by the audience. Then, the magician does the trick again, showing how it is done.

After the trick is first shown, I typically pause the TV (you obviously need TiVo or a DVR for this) and try to figure out how it is done. I develop several theories. I am right about 70% of the time. I find this is a great way to stretch the mind and look for solutions to problems. It is even better than lateral brain teasers. [Read my 10 lateral brain teasers to get you thinking]

What I love about the process of magic is that magicians make the impossible happen. They decide, “Hey I want to slice a woman in half,” and then they find a way to do it without killing the subject.

This is a great lesson for creativity and innovation.

Sometimes we get stuck in the mundane. We get stuck in thinking about reality and what is possible.

But what if you could become masterful at making the seemingly impossible, possible.

What if, instead of solving possible challenges, you started to solve seemingly impossible problems?

What if, instead of looking for realistic solutions to challenges, you were to look for ideas that seemed impractical?

When solving a problem, one of the first questions I ask is, “What are impossible, immoral or illegal solutions?” Of course you don’t stop there. But it stretches your thinking. From there, you can then figure out ways of making these impractical solutions, practical.

The study of magic is itself a creative endeavor. The more you think like a magician, the more you too can make the impossible possible.