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Business Creativity and Innovation Thanks to Mr. Potato Head (and Frosty)

According to Hasbro:

The three newest members of the MR. POTATO HEAD family offer tons of imaginative fun for playful toddlers. The charming PRINCESS SWEET POTATO figure comes complete with tiara and frog prince for royal adventures, and FRYER FIGHTER tater is ready to squelch flames with his handy fire extinguisher.  Swashbuckling spud CAPTAIN POTATO CHIPS figurine has a peg leg, eye patch, and hooked hand and is eager for action-packed expeditions.

The Potato Head Family of Fredricton, NB!

It is all about Mr. Potato Head today because I had the pleasure of creating a whole Potato Head family while playing with my cousin’s toddlers—Aidan and Morgan—during the holidays in the Maritimes. I created a replica of their family in potatoes and was so pleased with my rendition (very loose!) that I took a photo. Of course, the significance was lost on Aidan and Morgan who were too busy pulling them apart.

So what do the Potato Heads have to do with business or coaching?  Not much in a direct kind of way and a lot from another perspective.  Creativity is essential for business innovation but we business owners often get so immersed in the day to day of our operations that we squelch it in ourselves and our employees too.

Fast Company recently published the results of a long-term study on business creativity (entire article here)  by Harvard professors Teresa Amabile and Leslie Perlow in which they bust a number of myths:

  1. Myth: Creativity comes from creative types.
    People who are tuned into their work, whether in accounting or production, have the best ability to tap into their creative process.
  2. Myth:  Money is a creativity motivator.
    People are most creative when they care about their work and when they are stretched. Any entrepreneur will attest to this.  Of course, the same entrepreneur, when stretched too much due to overwhelm, financial worry etc will tell you that his creativity goes out the window.
  3. Myth: Time pressure fuels creativity.
    People are least creative when they are fighting against time and there is a hangover effect of reduced creativity for a couple of days after people are crunched to be creative under pressure.
  4. Myth: Fear forces breakthroughs.
    Love and joy spur creativity far more effectively than anger, fear and anxiety. When people are excited about their work on one day, they are more likely to “hatch” ideas the next, after sleeping on it.
  5. Myth: Competition beats collaboration.
    The best ideas come from sharing and debating.  Competition and secrecy to protect ideas does not give creativity the best chance to lead to business innovation.

Creating Potato Heads with kids, some journal writing and conversations with family about my business issues and a good dose of Rock Band passively filled me with great ideas for Chandler Coaches.  Who knew that some of the best ideas would come while stepping away from the business and eating too much fruit cake?

Note: There was an important snowman involved in this creative process too.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • online strategy January 8, 2010, 9:19 am

    This is an interesting article. Enjoyed reading with Potato Head and Family along with Mr. Frosty, hehehe.

  • lisablog52 January 8, 2010, 12:29 pm

    Thank you! Looks like you are in the business of creativity and business innovation so I can see the appeal 🙂

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