Professional Reference Shelf


  1. Goman's Blockbusters
  2. Risk Taking

Goman's Blockbusters top

A number of structured techniques are avaliable for breaking through mental roadblocks. Collectively, they are referred to as blockbusting techniques. Goman identifies a number of blocks to creativity and offers some suggestions on how to overcome these blocks. The following table summarizes these blocks and blockbusters.



1. Negative Attitude

Focusing attention on negative aspects of the problem or possible unsatisfactory outcomes hampers creativity.

1. Attitude Adjustment

List the positive outcomes and aspects of the problem. Realize that with every problem there is not only danger of failure but also an opportunity for success.

2. Fear of Failure

One of the greatest inhibitors to creativity is the fear of failure and the inability to take a risk.

2. Risk Taking

Outline what the risk is, why it is important, what the worst possible outcome would be, what your options are with the worst possible outcome, and how you would deal with this failure.

3. Following the Rules

Some rules are necessary, such as stop- ping at a red light. Others, such as the idea that you must take the familiar (or most efficient, or shortest) route to work, hinder innovation.

3. Breaking the Rules

Remove unnecessary constraints imposed by the solution requirements.

4. Over-reliance on Logic

A need to proceed in a step-by-step fashion may relegate imagination to the background.

4. Creative Internal Climate

Turn the situation over to your imagination, your feelings, and your sense of humor. Play with insights and possibilities.

5. Belief that You Aren't Creative

Believing that you are not creative is a serious hindrance to generating creative solutions. Believing that you can't do something is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

5. Creative Beliefs

Encourage your creativity by asking "what if" questions, daydreaming, and making up metaphors and analogies. Try different ways of expressing your creativity.

In regard to Goman's fifth blockbuster, there are definitely ways you can increase your creativity by learning new attitudes, values, and ways of approaching and solving problems and by heeding the guidelines presented in the next section.

Risk Taking top

We just saw that risk taking is important for improving your creativity. What are risks? Risks are actions, with no certainty of succeeding, that require significant effort, resources, and/or time. If the actions are successful, however, they will have a major impact.

Recognize that whenever you take a risk, there will most likely be someone out there to criticize it. Don't be too sensitive to criticism.

Arsenio Hall top

Arsenio Hall was a successful department store manager. He gave up a "safe" job by taking a risk as a budding comedian. He failed a number of times before hitting it big, but we can safely say the reward was worth the risk! The Dallas Cowboys was for years one of the most successful football franchises and Coach Tom Landry was one of the most respected field generals in the game. He was synonymous with the Dallas Cowboys. However in the late 1980s when the injury laden Cowboys were having some unsuccessful seasons, the ownership changed. In a surprising move the new owner, Jerry Jones, fired the Dean of football coaches, Tom Landry and took a major risk by replacing him with Jimmy Johnson, who was an NFL rookie coach, and his college roommate. Within five years the Cowboys won two Superbowls, compared to only one Superbowl victory in the previous 25 years. There are many similar examples and we should take a lesson from them. Effective problem solvers have developed the proper attitude towards risk taking.

The Jolly Green Giant top

Another example of risk taking concerns the logo for Green Giant™ food products. "The Jolly Green Giant" first appeared as the symbol for Minnesota Valley Canning Company in 1925. However, when the company president proposed putting a green giant onto the label for canned peas, executives argued that it was ridiculous to have a giant with green skin. The executives were afraid to take a risk. "Whoever heard of green skin?" Fortunately, the president of the company was willing to take a risk. One could now ask the question "Who hasn't heard of the green giant?" He had appeared more than 450 million times on cans and been heard to say "Ho Ho Ho" more than 16,000 times in over 300 television commercials. (NWA World Traveler, 25, No. 3, p. 20, 1993)

Why Is Champagne Dry, Charles? top

Up until the mid 1880s, champagnes were sweet and consumed at the end of a meal in much the same manner as ports and sherries. Charles Perrier was a successful champagne producer in France. In 1837 he began marketing and selling Perrier-Jouët™ Champagne in the United States, and between 1840 and 1870 exported over a million bottles. His success and fortune continued to grow to the extent that he constructed a $120,000 chateau (1870 dollars) in Epernay, France. The chateau featured six miles of underground cellars containing eight million bottles of champagne. In the mid 1880s, a family friend, John Crockfort, encouraged Perrier-Jouët to produce a dry (i.e., less sweet) champagne, one that would not compete with the after-dinner sherries and ports. Perrier-Jouët considered the idea and thought it was interesting. But why should they change? Who would buy it? Though not the leading champagne company in France, they were extremely successful and were concerned that such a change could bring ruination. Nevertheless, they did take a risk and began producing a dry champagne. Although it did take a while to catch on, by the early 1890s it was out-selling sweet champagne. By the turn of the century, over one million bottles per year of their dry champagne were being exported worldwide. Nowadays, virtually all champagnes are dry.
(NWA World Traveler, 25, No. 8, p.28, 1993).

The Risk of Risk Taking top

A young man just out of college had saved up $15,000 during his first two years of working and was looking for an investment opportunity. He saw himself as rather conservative, but wanted to change and become more of a risk taker. He saw an advertisement for a coffee company based in Florida that was offering franchises that would make investors thousands of dollars in their spare time. The company distributed single-pot servings of ground-flavored coffee in individual packets, and it claimed that some of the flavorings for the coffee could not be found anywhere else.

When the young man contacted the company, he learned that for $10,000 he could buy a franchise for his area. With that initial investment, he would receive $4000 worth of coffee bags and 20 display cases for the coffee. The next step was for the investor to contact local stores to place the coffee, giving 20% of the profits to each storeowner. For an extra $3000, the company owner in Florida promised to fly to his area for 3 days to help him place the coffee in at least 12 stores. After placing the cases, all that the new franchise owner had to do was to check each store on a regular basis, replenish the coffee packets that had been sold, and collect his profits. When his supply of the coffee bought for $4000 was depleted, the company owner would sell him another batch of coffee. According to the company, such a franchise was a surefire way to double the investor's money in a year.

The young man decided to take the plunge and buy a franchise. He paid $13,000 to the company owner and, within the next month, the display cases with the coffee were placed in 12 stores in the area. After a week, the new franchise owner went to check his coffee stations and replenish the coffee that had been purchased in each of the stores. To his surprise, not nearly as much coffee had been purchased during the first week as he was led to believe would happen. When the young man returned to the stores a week later, he found that even less coffee was purchased in the second week than in the first. He then went back a month after the initial placement, but found that less than half of the coffee he had originally placed had been sold. The franchise owner still had a closet full of coffee from the initial amount supplied by the owner.

This trend continued for several months, but it became apparent that the franchise owner was unlikely to recover even 80% of his investment. Shortly thereafter, the young man stopped checking the stores to replenish the coffee. He wound up giving away the remaining coffee, which filled his closet. He had taken a risk and lost about $12,000 of his investment.

In this case, the young man had not anticipated that the coffee franchise company was inflating the possibility for profit and was not prepared to support his effort. He did not recognize that this investment would not be a good match given the time and energy he was willing to commit. More research and thoughtful consideration upfront might have prevented this loss.