- US $29.95
- Click here to buy the book
- Published: November 2010
- ISBN: 9781841127897
- Format: Hardcover
- Extent: 306
Time and space. Genetics and robotics. Education and fashion. Possibilities limited only by our imaginations. The future is yours to create. Could you be the Leonardo da Vinci of our times?
Most ideas are incremental, quickly copied and suffocated by conventions. "Future back" thinking starts with stretching possibilities then makes them a reality "now forward". The best ideas emerge by seeing what everyone has seen, and thinking like nobody else. Newness occurs in the margins not the mainstream. Solutions emerge through powerful fusions of the best ideas into practical, useful concepts. Creative people rise up. Visionaries, border crossers and game changers. Engage your right brain, open your eyes, think more holistically... intuition rules.
From Apple to Blackberry, GE to Google, innovative companies stand out from the crowd not so much for their exceptional products, despite what one might assume, but for the way they challenge conventions, redefine markets, and change consumer expectations. Apple didn't just create the iPod; it envisioned the future of music and then made a product to service that future. And the same holds true for every highly innovative company. In Creative Genius, Peter Fisk presents ten tracks for innovation and provides business blueprints for making that innovation happen.
Creative Genius is inspired by the imagination and perspective of Leonardo da Vinci, in order to drive creativity, design and innovation in more radical and powerful ways. It includes practical tools ranging from scenario planning and context reframing to accelerated innovation and market entry, plus 50 tracks, 25 tools, and 50 inspiring case studies.
Creative Genius is "the best and last" in the Genius series by bestselling author Peter Fisk. Others include Business Genius, Marketing Genius and Customer Genius.
The wind in my hair and Nike Air on my feet
Past the roaring deer and exotic parakeets
Historic palaces and ancient oak trees
Imagining what they have seen, and what they will see
This is my time to think, to dream and reflect
We are all inspired by the world around us, by nature and people
Creative people, such as artists, musicians and architects
Inventors and designers, innovators and entrepreneurs
Stimulated by their vision and ideas, enabled by business and technology
Thinking bigger about new spaces and opportunities
Searching for the impossible then finding ways to make them possible
Listening to what people would love, not just what is marginally better
Designing the perfect solution and finding a way to make it profitable
Not just competing, but out-thinking the competition
Not just creating, but shaping the world in your own vision
Creativity is the most exciting thing that we do
Design is the most engaging
Innovation the most exhilarating
Thinking what you never thought was possible
Inspiring you to do the extraordinary
In your work and in your life
Leonardo da Vinci
It is easy to say that a person is ‘ahead of his time’, but rarely has anyone been so far ahead. He could see the future – his insights suggested new possibilities, his imagination was uncluttered by today, and his inventions really did emerge from the ‘future back’.
Leonardo da Vinci anticipated many of the great scientific discoveries ahead of his time, including those by Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Darwin. He even went further than them, turning their principles into practical applications, from calculators to helicopters, hydrodynamics to solar power.
• Forty years before Nicolaus Copernicus, he proclaimed ‘il sole no si muove’ – ‘the sun does not move’, dismissing the belief that the earth sits at the centre of the universe.
• Two hundred years before Isaac Newton, he proposed the theory of gravity – that ‘every weight tends to fall towards the centre by the shortest possible way’, and that the Earth must be spherical.
• Four hundred years before Charles Darwin, he argued that man and monkey had the same origins, and how evolution has shaped the natural world around us.
How did he do this? The answers lie not in science or technology, but in the way in which he saw the world around him and how that made him ‘rethink’. From the Mona Lisa to The Last Supper, it is the same approaches that made his paintings so remarkable, that enabled him to create, design and invent many of the aspects of life today.
What was it that inspired, shaped and sustained his creative genius? What were his talents and traits that we could seek to recreate in our own quest for creativity and innovation? Psychologist, and professional juggler Michael Gelb proposed seven components to da Vinci’s distinctive approach. He labelled them curiositá, sensazione, arte e scienza, connessione, sfumato, dimostrazione and corporalitá. Whilst there is nothing futuristic in these attributes themselves, they did enable him to see things differently and, as a result, think different things.
So how can we apply these ideas to business today, and specifically to the challenge of more effective innovation, innovation from the ‘future back’?
1 Relentless curiosity … an insatiable hunger to learn, to search for better answers and to articulate his ideas in pictures, and propose new possibilities.
2 Seeing more … he observed things differently, using all his senses to appreciate richer detail, to align perspective and perception, and thereby to understand his subject better.
3 Thinking bigger … appreciating art and science, logic and imagination, he was able to think more broadly, embracing rigorous analysis whilst also trusting his intuition.
4 Making connections … to connect the unconnected, to embrace the fusion and intersection between the natural and physical world, the tiniest seeds to the stars above.
5 Embracing paradox … thriving on ambiguity and uncertainty, creating mystery and depth, be it the contrast in his sketches or asking questions without obvious answers.
6 Courageous action … always seeking to prove his hypotheses, to experiment and test, to make his ideas tangible, and to do what nobody had done before.
7 Enlightened mind … constantly renewing mental and physical fitness, exploring new worlds to spark new ideas, not being a slave to work but living a full life.
Leonardo had an insatiable curiosity and an imagination unconditioned by his surroundings. This combination of catalyst and creativity enabled him to make some of the greatest technological advances of the modern world.
Beyond his art, Leonardo is admired for his technological ingenuity. As a scientist, he contributed much to the evolution of knowledge – particularly in the fields of anatomy, optics, mechanical engineering and hydrodynamics. He developed highly original concepts, captured in immaculately detailed designs, for everything from a helicopter, a tank, a calculator and a double-hulled catamaran, to a basic theory of plate tectonics.
Da Vinci is still thought of by most people as primarily an artist, but his world-changing approach to realistic painting was only possible due to his fascination with science.
He took this fascination with understanding and recording the world around him to extreme lengths, dissecting many bodies and drawing them in great detail. He saw the body as a machine, a complex mechanism that could eventually be understood. He was one of the first, for example, to identify the pumping action of the heart.
He even replaced muscles with strings to experiment and see how they worked with the levers of the bones. His understanding of anatomy and his experimental approach opened the way for others to follow in later centuries.
The Renaissance, and in particular Florence, is famed for its unusual concentration of great men at the time, although they rarely worked together. Leonardo was 23 when Michelangelo was born and 31 when Raphael was born.
Unique to the period was the encouragement by patrons and thinkers of a ‘cross-over’ between the arts and sciences (or social philosophies as they were regarded at the time), which challenged many of the conventions around, and found newness in their intersection rather than isolated extremes. This became known as the ‘Medici Effect’, enabled by the gathering of diverse talents encouraged by rich benefactors, such as the Medici family. Leonardo was a master of cross-over. He combined ideas from animal and plant studies with psychology, fashion, anatomy and architecture. From this he formed his understanding of mechanics, and everything from hydraulic pumps to new musical instruments emerged. He used analogy – for example, he wrote short fables like Aesop, stories that seemed to be to entertain children but were in fact to communicate to adults the danger of greed and so on.
Few of his design concepts were ever constructed. Not because they weren’t practical; more often because the technologies and resources to create them were not available at the time. However, some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the strength of wire, became reality.
In 1502, for example, Leonardo produced a drawing of a single-span 240-metre bridge as part of a civil engineering project for Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II of Istanbul. The bridge was intended to span an inlet at the mouth of the Bosphorus. Beyazid did not pursue the project because he believed that such a construction was impossible; however, Leonardo’s vision was resurrected in 2006 when the Turkish government decided to construct Leonardo’s bridge to span the Golden Horn.
So what can we learn from Leonardo da Vinci? How can his life and work inspire us to be more creative, enlightened, inspired by our surroundings, and able to innovate from the future back?
Steve Jobs has many great attributes, but he too is not perfect. Maybe surprisingly, much of advanced technology is Greek to him. His skill is to rise above this, to understand people, the simplicity of user-centric design in all its facets, and the power of communication. Maybe we can learn something from this in today’s world – where words and numbers dominate our communication and restrict our imagination. Maybe P&G have the right idea when they stipulate that any new proposal, innovation or investment should be communicated in a one page poster rather than in lengthy reports or slideshows.
Certainly the ideas of looking further into the future and deeper into the consumer’s world are only beginning to matter in business today. Techniques such as scenario planning on consumer immersion are still rare. Going beyond the assumptions and research statistics to live with consumers, to understand how products and services are used, enable people to do more, enrich their lives – by seeing the challenge and opportunity from their perspective.
We now examine Leonardo’s seven talents in a little more detail, looking at what they mean for creativity and innovation today, and how you can embrace them in pursuit of your own creative genius.
From advice for small businesses on sustaining long-term growth, to case studies in successful branding, Peter Fisk's Genius books present winning strategies for today's business leaders looking to gain a competitive edge in the new business environment.
- Peter Fisk
Peter Fisk, author of the Genius series, gives you the inside track on getting through the downturn and emerging stronger on the other side