Confession. Until two weeks ago, I was a Blackberry person and suffered cruel mockery from all of my hipster iPhone friends. Even though I waggled my iPad in their general direction, their mirth knew no bounds. “How’s life in 2004?”. Sigh. If only they understood.
I travel constantly and I am an entrepreneur. I have, on a regular basis, written five page proposals using only my thumbs. Try doing THAT on an iPhone and see what happens to your hipster fedora when your brain explodes. So when I saw some press for Ryan Seacrest’s new venture Typo, it was a potential life changer.
Here’s the quick skinny. Ryan and his Hollywood playahs would regularly hangout talk showbiz, ordering their Mojitos or Mocha Locha Latta Frappas and lay not one, but two devices on the table until one day, the conversation went something like this (at least in my head).
“Dude – why do you need two phones? And don’t just say “because I can afford it.”
“My iPhone is, like, my LIFE, but typing on it straight up sucks”
“Why doesn’t someone just make a keyboard for the iPhone that’s kinda like a Blackberry?”
Cut to: Sound of heads exploding. And Typo was born. Notwithstanding that they are getting sued by Blackberry, this was a simple yet brilliant idea. All of you may claim that you had this idea first, or at least posed the question first, but they actually did it. This, at Combustion, is what we call a brain tweak.
A brain tweak is when you shift thinking or perception by tiny degrees. It’s a tilt of the cranium. A narrowing of the mind’s eye. And with that can come unbelievable clarity. While everyone else is trying to shoot the moon and change the future with their radical innovations, the brain tweakers are quietly solving problems with the power of great questions and a few little “what ifs”.
Case in point; how long have we had the wheel? And how long have we carry crap around? But it wasn’t until 1969 that the world colliding brain tweak occurred. Bernard Sadow, one-time prez of U.S. Luggage was schlepping heavy bags back from a trip to Aruba when he noticed a skid nearby. With a tweak and a tilt of his head, turned to his wife and said “That’s what luggage needs: wheels.” By October 1970, the first wheeled luggage prototype was literally rolled out.
More power to the brain tweakers!
My advice. Sometimes it’s OK to aim small. Use perception shifting tools to reexamine your opportunities and break through assumptions. Ask questions like “How would they have solved this problem in 1910?””or “How would an Olympic athlete solve this problem?” And don’t discount ideas or solutions that don’t feel radical enough. Sometimes radical is overvalued.
I’ll be reminded of this lesson as I type my next sixty-five-page magnum opus on my new iPhone using my Typo keyboard…if it ever arrives. Maybe THAT problem could be solved with your next little brain tweak.