Those who are around children for any length of time have often grown weary of the question, “Why?”
For example, on taking a short trip to the bank with a five year old, the parent may say,
“Mommy needs to go to the bank.”
“Why?” asks the child.
“Because she needs money.”
“Because we want to buy things.”
“Well, because we need clothes and toys.”
The saga continues until the parent finally says, “ I suppose the social pressures of living in an upper-middle class neighborhood means we need to keep up with the appearances of having nice things for our family.” By the time you finish this long-drawn out response, the child has turned her attention back to the blocks in her lap.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “persistent questions and healthy inquisitiveness are the first requisite for acquiring learning of any kind.” While this sounds wonderful in theory, in actuality, the parent is probably reeling with frustration or annoyance. The child, however, is learning about language, thinking, social mores, and life, in general. The “5 Whys” technique of problem solving was developed in the 1930s by Sakichi Toyoda. Because it is a simple way of getting to the bottom of a problem quickly, it is still being used by companies today. This question of “Why” can oftentimes lead us down a path of realization, inspiration, innovation, or sometimes, even more confusion.
According to Warren Berger in A More Beautiful Question, there is a 75% decline in questioning as children transition from elementary through middle school to high school. With this decrease in questioning comes the inability to ask the simple, naïve questions that are often needed to get to the heart of a problem or dilemma.
How do you come up with the best questions? One option is through Question-Storming. This is a process of brainstorming, but instead of solutions, you are coming up with questions. The goal is to generate as many possible questions as you can, in order to access the heart of the "problem" By asking questions, we develop a curious mindset. And with that curiosity comes greater insight and creativity. In her book Change Your Questions Change Your Life, Marilee Adams stresses the importance of asking difficult questions in order to lead to radical transformation.
Through asking the right questions, people can develop their true visions, morals, opinions, and innovations. The Right Question Institute uses a variety of techniques to get to this “right question.” They offer workshops, webinars, and services to help children and adults develop a questions mindset. In turn, democracy is served through a greater understanding of the true questions and issues at hand.
Euripides said “Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.” So the question remains: “Is the question the answer?”
A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger
Questions Are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and In Life by Hal Gregersen
Change Your Questions Change Your Life by Marilee Adams
Soon there may be a new brand and blend of coffee that some feel will totally revolutionize the coffee industry, and it’s happening here in Ol’ Kentucky. To the bold, brave, and undiscerning coffee lovers, this may be the long-awaited breakthrough in taste, aroma, and chewiness you have awaited. Following years of research and development and repeated failures, it is finally here! Admittedly, this coffee is not for everyone; but, it will be well worth the wait! For those who seek excitement and adventure, we are pleased to announce 🎺🎺🎺:
Kentucky Burgoo Stew Brew Coffee!
As you may know, Burgoo is created from left-overs dumped into a large kettle and slowly cooked down to a divine mixture of colors, tastes, and sounds. It requires four or more meats, six or more vegetables, plus herbs, spices, and perhaps a splash of Pap’s home brew.
In like manner, Burgoo coffee is a mixture of left-over, stale, abandoned beans from throughout the world. But, when combined they create a unique taste sensation--kinda. The beans represent Mexico, Hawaii, Jamaica, Kenya—well over 20 or more great forests—creating a true, one-of-a-kind blend. But as wonderful as this sounds, this is only the beginning.
Next, the sweet essence of Burgoo stew is filtered through pure burlap to a gurgling, savory broth. The perfect combination of cabbage, okra, wild onions/ramps, and asparagus, coupled with potatoes, carrots, and peas, create a taste impossible to describe. Added to this delectable mixture is a medley of extraordinary meats from the wild as well as the barnyard: deer, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, possum, and groundhog together with pig, cow, mule, and turkey—assembled especially for everyone’s taste. The Burgoo coffee beans are bathed in the rich Burgoo stew, then roasted, ground, and bagged. WOW!
No doubt you are anxiously wondering how and when you can be the first to experience such joy. We have had one exploratory discussion with a coffee company; but, to our chagrin, they left confused and babbling. Abraham Lincoln once said: "If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee. Much like President Lincoln, it may take coffee makers a while to fully appreciate the enormity of this culinary breakthrough. But just imagine, though, what this will do for the economy of Kentucky.
If you would enjoy following the future of this venture and perhaps sample one of the first cups, then you will want to stay tuned to the Stormcells blog. It will be here first! Note: There is also a health benefit to the Burgoo coffee, as the concoction appears to kill a case of worms. (Or cause it--we are doing more testing.)
--Dr. Soggy Bottoms – Mule Laboratories
This blog was written by fictional guest blogger, Soggy Bottoms, from the fictional Mule Laboratories, concerning the obvious fictional Burgoo Brew Stew Coffee.
What EXACTLY is Stormcells? While the name suggests otherwise, Stormcells does not have anything to do with the weather. (Yes, the Stormcells name has given us some issues as people Google it.) Stormcells is, however, a nonprofit organization that uses brainstorming, creativity, and problem-solving to help other charities. The company focuses on service, innovation, and collaboration, while always seeking to give more than we receive. We break the rules, we have fun, and we try to solve the problems that hinder charities from doing their important work. Even the Dalai Lama said you have to “know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” So, while we don’t actually chase storms, we do use our brain cells to help others navigate uncharted waters and stand against the winds of conventional thought. (Was that last line a little too hokey? Yeah, I thought so too, but decided to leave it in for imagery.)
How does Stormcells go about doing these things, you might ask? We have a few tried and true ways and sometimes we just think them up as we go along. We take Dr. Seuss very seriously, and he very poignantly claimed, “Think left and think right and think low and thing high. Oh! The thinks you can think up if only you try!” We work charities to find strategies that are as unique as they are. For example, a charity might have a challenge that involves fundraising, marketing, or advocacy. Stormcells helps them determine what might be a good fit and then we work alongside them to implement the plan. Oh, and did I mention that all the services we offer charities are free? Yep—if Stormcells works with your charity, you don’t pay us a dime.
One of the largest initiatives through Stormcells is the Women’s Think Tank. That’s right, a think tank made up only of women! We feel that women provide unique perspectives that can help charities and small businesses with the problems they face. You see, studies suggest that there is still gender bias relating to performance, innovation, and creativity.* WHAT? Even in the twenty-first century, people buy into the idea that men are more innovative, intellectual, and creative. As odd as it seems, women are part of those people that still believe it. At Stormcells, our goal is to break those stereotypes and help women recognize the creative potential within them. The Women’s Think Tank provides personal/ professional development for the members, as well as assistance to charities. Through a year-long curriculum plan, ongoing real-world challenges, and networking with other women, the members learn about idea generation, creativity, problem-solving, and PLAY! Wait, “play”? Absolutely—play is essential to creative thinking; so, Stormcells incorporates laughter, imagination, and “play” into our regular routine.
The last blog post that we published on “thinking outside the box”, (which had maybe ten views) provided information about another service that Stormcells offers--Diaminds® Challenges. Well, you think, it is probably because you spelled diamonds wrong and are dimwitted. No—we actually spell it that way. Diaminds® is a registered game of creativity under pressure, involving a prize-backed challenge. A real-world problem is issued to a group of individuals or teams and they battle to determine the best potential solution. “Battle” might not be the best word, but they definitely compete for a really cool prize. Every idea submitted is given to the charity to help them with the challenges they face; thus, providing them with the gems of our minds. (See what we did there?)
Now you know a little more about Stormcells and the work that we do, you can stay involved by following us on facebook, twitter, or LinkedIn. Check out the rest of our website, or shoot us an email to learn more. And, in case you want to read more about a couple of topics covered here:
Gender gap and creativity:
Play and creativity:
You often hear the phrase, "Think Outside The Box," but just what does that really mean? How does one go about thinking outside the box? Obviously, it is a metaphor of how we are initially taught as children to color within the lines--or the "box." It implies learning to follow directions, do as all others do, and not to deviate from the accepted norm. Yet, if we never venture outside the box at some point in our lives, we do not discover the richness of all that lies beyond. Outside the box exists adventure, unexplored worlds, and "creativity." Thus, the term to "think outside the box" is to free the mind and go beyond the constraints of traditional thought and problem solving. To "think outside the box" is to explore new ideas that have yet remained unexplored.
Once children have mastered coloring inside the box, then they must be taught to explore the world beyond those lines. To "color outside the lines" is to enter a world that is not as orderly and controlled. It is not as comfortable. Stepping outside the lines is like discord in music, unmatched socks with dress pants, and ice cream with sauerkraut. It is easy to return to the box--to life within the lines, where we are not criticized or rejected or ridiculed for being different. It is not always easy to keep time and march in order, but it is often easier than being seen as socially awkward or stepping to the beat of a drum that only you hear.
One key to creative thinking is seeing issues from a unique perspective. From within the box, everyone sees a problem from a similar viewpoint. However, from outside of the box lies a fresh perspective. When someone sees a problem from a different field of view and with fresh eyes, a new solution springs forth. Overcoming the fear of being rejected or seeming irrational allows a world of completely different possibilities. There is room to play, think, create, dance, and dream.
We have all heard the proverbial, "you can't see the forest for the trees." This, in essence, means that we are too close to the problem to see the obvious solution. It is hard to see the outside from the inside; but if we put a little bit of distance between us, then we can see the entire forest. If we step outside the box, then we may just see all four corners, the lines, and the angles that make up the entire shape.
At Stormcells, we regularly offer Diaminds® Challenges. These challenges are presented by a charity that needs to solve chronic or resistant problems. Those individuals who elect to participate in the event can bring unique perspectives to the challenge, since they are outside of the theoretical box in which the charity staff sit. These new perspectives provide insight and creative solutions that allow a breakthrough on behalf of the charity. Equally important, the participant discovers their creative potential and opens a window to the universe, lightyears beyond the box!
--Dr. Roy L Miller II
Dr. Miller was a co-founder of Stormcells but has since ventured outside of the Stormcells box. He does, however, remain involved from time to time.