“What If?” Part Two: Igniting Disruptive Thinking

Sometimes the beginning of the creative process can be as simple as asking the question, “What if?” This question can help us change course or even take us on a new path. Here are several examples:

  • Screenwriter James V. Hart received his creative inspiration from his six-year-old son’s question, “What if Peter Pan grew up?”  The result: Hook.
  • Screenwriter Marc Norman’s son, Zachary, asked his father, “What if Shakespeare had writer’s block when writing ‘Romeo and Juliet?” The result: Shakespeare in Love.
  •  Screenwriter Bob Gale was visiting his parents and found his father’s yearbook in the basement. When reading about his father, he asked the question, “What if I had gone to school with him? Would I have been friends with him?” The result: Back to the Future.

As we discussed in the last blog, “What if?” may be two of the most important words in the creative process.When used, two separate things are occurring simultaneously:

  • The What is examining a common object, pattern, or conventional idea (convergent thinking).
  • The If is the What becoming a new idea, approach, or concept (divergent thinking).

The three examples above involve screenwriters generating ideas for a new movie. What about examples of creativity and the role of “What if” in other professions?

  • What if - Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google founders) did not ask, “What if a computer search could be more applicable and simple to use?”
  • What if - Steve Jobs (Apple) did not ask, “What if we combine technology and design and focus on creating a superlative customer experience?”
  • What if - Richard Branson (Virgin) did not ask “What if” all the time about almost everything?”
  •  What if – Futurists asked, “What if your pillow could collect your dreams and you could wake up and plug them into your computer and watch them all over again?"

Here’s a handy PMQ tool to use to further explore all the “What ifs?”

James C. Collins stated, “Good is the enemy of great.” Stated another way: Mediocrity’s best friend is the status quo. What if more people started asking “What if?”

By asking “What if?” you can break from the status quo. You may reenergize yourself and those around you. You may even begin changing your learning environment or workplace culture. By using these two simple words, you (and others) are adopting an attitude or mindset of continuous improvement.

There are many conversations happening around the power of design thinking, creative thinking, disruptive innovation, etc. An easy, simple start to begin moving these conversations towards action is to begin by asking “What if . . .?” Creative solutions can often be found in the sheer grace of simplicity.

When you begin questioning and pondering new possibilities emerge and the present becomes a launch pad to the future!

What if? = Imagine the future

Live creatively and prosper!

Patti & Rick Shade

Founders – Curiosita Teaching™


Thanks for reading!

Our goal is to help as many parents and educators as we can. If you know of others interested in parenting and teaching with and for creativity, please forward.