A Formula to Avoid Thinking

Submitted by: Dave Trott 20/04/2017

Creating great ad campaigns is an art - especially if they are to be effective across the entire media spectrum. We have teamed up with Dave Trott, one of the greatest creativity gurus, to inspire you...

A couple of years back there was an interesting item on the news.

A Spanish woman had just won the lottery.

An immense amount of money, around a hundred million Euros.

Naturally she was interviewed by all the media.

They wanted to know the usual.

How did she feel, how would it change her life, who would she give large chunks of cash to?

But the part that interested me was they wanted to know how she picked the numbers.

What was her system?

She said she was truly blessed.

To prove it, she carefully went through all the numbers with the interviewer.

She had used her all her family’s birthdays.

Someone up there was looking after her, because they all came up.

Every single one.

What the interviewer found more interesting was the date of her birthday: July 7th.

She said yes, the seventh day of the seventh month.

Seven times seven is forty eight, so that was one of her winning numbers: forty eight.

The interesting part, for the rest of us, is that seven times seven is not forty eight.

Seven times seven is forty nine.

She got it wrong.

If she’d got it right, she wouldn’t have won.

But the lady wouldn’t accept it, her belief overrode the facts.

She was blessed and that was that.

And it reminded me of Dumbo’s feather.

In the film, Dumbo’s ears are so big he can use them to fly.

But he doesn’t believe he can fly, so he can’t.

The little mouse realises there’s no point in giving him a logical explanation about flight.

So he gives him a feather and tells him it’s magic.

As long as he holds the feather he can fly.

Dumbo tries it and of course it works, because it supplies the missing ingredient: belief.

Belief is what you’ve got when you haven’t got knowledge.

Belief is what you’ve got instead of thinking.

Of course eventually Dumbo finds he doesn’t need the feather to fly.

That’s how it works in Hollywood.

But in the real world everyone clings onto their beliefs.

Except we call them formulas.

Systems we can learn and use without the difficulty of thinking.

We love them because there’s security there.

We don’t have to think.

Which means we don’t have to take risks.

So we are very attached to these formulas.

The problem with formulas is they keep us locked in conventional wisdom.

We can’t discover anything new as long as we stick to formulas.

We will be limited by conventional wisdom.

Rules such as this:

“The laws of aerodynamics prove that the bumblebee should be

incapable of flight, as it does not have the capacity (in terms of wing

size or beats per second) to achieve flight with the degree of wing

loading necessary. The calculations are based upon a simplified linear

treatment of oscillating aerofoils. The method assumes small amplitude oscillations without flow separation.”

My daughter recently showed me a quote concerning that particular piece of conventional wisdom:

“According to the laws of aerodynamics the bumblebee can’t fly. But

the bumblebee doesn’t know that, so it just carries on flying around.”

Taken from 'One Plus One Equals Three' 
Written in Dave Trott's distinctive, almost Zen-like style, One Plus On Equals Three is a collection of provocative anecdotes and thought experiments designed to light a fire under your own creative ambitions.