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Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Grant McCracken on the importance of lunch

You know the feeling well: your stomach starts grumbling, calling you to a fantabulous feast as the sun sails through its zenith. You want to relent and break free for the outside world, happy for the brief respite from your toil that lunch would provide.

But you need three great ideas for selling ice to eskimos for a mid-afternoon meeting. Food would just get in the way.

You push on, wringing the stone that is your brain, looking for the merest hint of saleable blood. None deigns to dribble out. With the deadline looming, you start to get distracted -panicked even- and look for a way out. The rumblings from your stomach, in the mean time, have become so magnificent they could topple Pompey. In a moment of weakness, you decide to seek solace in the arms of a carb and calorie-laden monstrosity.
Bolting out the office door, dodging the gallingly chirpy folk in the the street, you fight your way to your dealer of choice. You frantically scan the menu, searching for that which will comfort you. That which will help you forget that the client’s due in half an hour.
And then it hits you. The first idea. While you’re trying to decide what to eat.

What does lunch do?  It gives the world a chance to supply it’s “metaphoric materials.” Cause that’s what’s happening, isn’t it?  We are working on a problem to do with logistical systems and someone starts talking about the organization of ganglia in the brain and we go, “But of course.  That will do, nicely.  Thank you.”

I blame the Dewey Decimal system.  (And frankly it’s done so much harm in the world, I am pretty sure no one is going to mind me adding one more accusation.)   The DDS clusters like minded things together.  And that’s what we always do when trying to solve a problem.  We cluster the data, theories, methods, colleagues we think we’ll need when in fact we should be invited serendipity into our lives to give us the chance for those metaphoric materials.

So what is this? It’s a call to lunch. More importantly, it’s a call to enjoy lunch to its full extent and to feel free to share it with the rest of us. You never know what might happen.
(Source: Grant McCracken, Harnessing the Innovation Paradox) (Image: Hans S on Flickr)


Category: Things I like, Uncategorized

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