Creativity Is Breaking the Rules: Two Examples
By Shlomo Maital
Creativity is widening the range of choices, often by breaking the rules – by doing things differently than everyone else. It takes courage and mental flexibility just to conceive of creative choices. Here are two case studies.
1. Disney Theatrical Group is initiating and investing in a Broadway musical production of The Jungle Book, first published by Rudyard Kipling as a series of stories in magazines in 1893-94, and now a Disney property (like Winnie the Pooh).
As director, Disney chose a MacArthur ‘genius’ grantee, Mary Zimmerman. Here is how she is building the musical. According to Rob Weinert-Kendt (New York Times, June 25),
“…she starts rehearsals without a script, then works on writing one up until opening night…”! The new show opens July 1. It has already aroused controversy, because Zimmerman’s setting is India, and she has been accused of (wait for it…) “cultural colonialism” (appropriating India’s culture for capitalist profit)!
Those who produce Broadway musicals invest millions of dollars in high-risk ventures. Disney has shareholders who track everything the company does. When millions are invested in a new show, without even having a script at the start of rehearsals… this is definitely breaking the rules.
I wish Mary Zimmerman success, and hope my blog readers, some of them, will emulate her.
2. Magazines have covers. TIME magazine has a different cover for each issue. New issue, new cover. That’s the rule.
Why not multiple covers for the same issue? Why not, say, four different covers for the July 1 print issue of TIME – one new cover for each of four consecutive days?
This is TIME’s innovation, in desperately struggling to gain new readers and keep old ones, in an era when young people get their news on-line.
Other magazines follow suit. Fitness magazine ran multiple covers for its July-August 2012 issue.
The point here is, ask yourself, what are the key assumptions? How does EVERYONE do something? Then ask, why is this so? How can we widen the range of choices, for ourselves and four our clients? Always, the point is not to do something new, but to do something better, to add value for clients.
The difficulty is, people are used to old familiar things, and often resist anything new, anything changed. It takes courage to be an innovator, to widen the choices, to break the rules, and you have to be prepared to fail, sometimes massively. TIME knows this. So does Mary Zimmerman. We wish both great success.