Creativity Lessons from a 30-year old TV

I spent the last several weeks trying to deal with what seemed to be thorny technology issues – at least to me since I am somewhat of a luddite (technology is not my first love nor do I seem to be very adept at dealing with it!).  These challenges have been frustrating and time draining and lots of other bad things….

After over a month of conversations with folks at Comcast, Best Buy, and Toshiba and many website searches, the problems have finally been resolved.   However, in the process, I have learned (or is it relearned?) several important lessons on creativity so I guess it wasn’t a totally wasted month!

1.  Good communication is key to creative problem solving.  Part of the frustration was that I didn’t know the right words to communicate the first challenge.  If I had only known enough to say that I needed a “digital cable box” to connect “coaxial cable” with “RCA cables,” I wouldn’t have had to deal with half a dozen different Comcast service technicians who couldn’t understand my problem.  Okay, so communication is a two way street and perhaps both sides needed to be thinking more “out of the box,” but I do bear some responsibility in getting my terms straight!

The experience also underscored the importance of face-to-face communication.  No matter how sophisticated technology is becoming, imagine how much easier it would have been if we could have looked at the problem together instead of communicating over the phone.

2.  Mental ruts can be real obstacles. I am also sure part of the problem is that I was stuck in some rut about the way these things work and not thinking as creatively as I should have about alternatives.  I kept reading the instructions and trying the same things over and over again, which I believe is a sign of insanity.  I couldn’t seem to get out of the mental rut I was in!

3.  Trying to solve the problem alone may be part of the problem.  Instead of reaching out to others, I tried to solve the problem myself – partly through stubbornness, I suppose.  But my concern for the cost of help also entered into my decision.  Of course, I wasn’t really considering the amount of my own (equally valuable) time and energy that was being consumed!

4.  Expertise is part of the creativity equation.  Finally, it turns out that no matter how qualified I might be as a creativity expert (and I would like to lay some claim to that title), experience and expertise in the right field of knowledge are still needed.  Without the right knowledge, it’s difficult to truly solve thorny problems no matter how much creative thinking you apply to the problem.  I eventually gave up and found a Toshiba expert on Twitter (okay, I am not that much of a Luddite!).  That contact led me to an individual with sufficient expertise to help me diagnose and solve the problems!

So at last, my old clunker of a TV (haven’t gone to flat screen yet!) and my Toshiba VCR/DVD are now connected and running digitally (yes, I still use VCR tapes to record my favorite shows!).  And I have been once again reminded of the important roles that reaching out to others, communicating the problem correctly, finding the right expertise, and perhaps having some patience all play in the creative resolution of problems!

How about you?  Have you been reminded lately of any lessons in creative problem solving from everyday tasks and challenges?

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