Take a vacation for new ideas!

Vacation

Go on vacation! Take a trip somewhere and rejuvenate your creative side. I do this all the time and it’s not because I’m lazy. I do this to search for new ideas. I like to take myself out of my comfort zone every now and then just to see if I can discover something new. The mere idea of taking a trip helps my productivity because I know I’ll have a better time if my work is caught up and I’m free from the thought that I should be working. So I work better before I go.
Executives from large corporations strongly believe in the need to rejuvenate creativity that they take the entire senior staff on interesting weeklong retreats for this very purpose. Some companies like Google, Facebook and Epic Systems build incredible campuses filled with fascinating features and structures like outdoor movie theaters and giant tree houses just to keep the minds of employees sharp and fresh.
New ideas can come from anywhere.  In the early1950’s Ruth Handler spent countless hours watching her young daughter Barbara, play with paper dolls. Although the cut out dolls looked like children Handler noticed that Barbara often gave her dolls adult roles. Sometimes she would play waitress with the paper figures or pretend that one of the paper dolls was a mother. Handler’s observation went on for quite some time before she had a “crazy idea”.  Handler discovered that her daughter was projecting the dream of her own future as an adult woman when playing with paper dolls. Handler had her ‘ah ha’ moment!
At the time Handler’s husband was an executive at the Mattel toy company when Ruth suggested that the company should create a doll that looked like an adult. He scoffed at the idea saying little girls don’t want to play with grownups! Besides, what did Ruth know about the toy business? You can almost hear the conversation.
It wasn’t until the summer of 1956 when the Handler family was on vacation is Switzerland when everything changed. Ruth was wandering around a little town when she noticed a strange doll in the window of a cigarette shop. The doll was eleven inches tall and platinum blond hair long legs and an ample bosom. The dolls name was Bild Lili.  Ruth didn’t speak German and didn’t realize that the doll was actually a sex symbol sold to middle-aged men, which was why it was sold in tobacco shops and bars. She didn’t know what she was looking at but thought it was a perfect doll for her daughter.
Ruth continued to lobby her husband about the doll and it wasn’t until 1959 that Mattel built it’s first version of the Barbie doll. At first the doll was a flop-Sears refused to carry a children’s product with “feminine curves” – but sales steadily increased. Before long, the plastic toy became a cultural icon beloved by little girls, burned by feminists and immortalized by Warhol. Mattel has since sold more than a billion Barbie’s – a solicitous German figurine is now one of the most popular toys in the world.
What is interesting here is the course of events that lead to this new discovery. Ruth was on vacation she didn’t speak the language and if she did she would have immediately known that the doll was a sex symbol and she wouldn’t have thought it could have been a toy for her daughter. She was an outsider and way out of her comfort zone. If she were a Mattel executive she would have never thought the buxom doll could be a toy for children. All the negatives would have taken over her thought process.
Ruth was an outsider looking in and she wasn’t hindered by what would work and what wouldn’t. She had an early idea and ran with it.
Go on vacation and see what happens.  New ideas for how to do just about anything can be discovered this way.
 

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