Simple Revelations

Creative ideas that are the result of research respond to a need, but they will never be able to deliver beyond expectation. I have said it before. Most research is not insightful. What we really want is to come across revelation – an astonishing disclosure of truth that will change peoples’ views and transform the conversation.

Revelations come in all shapes and sizes. You have heavy hitters like Newton and Hawking, ‘aha’ moments related to everyday jobs, or you could have a revelation about yourself (which can be the hardest kind). For me, the simplest ideas are often the best because they just make sense. Cliff Francis call them ‘Surprising with the Obvious’. You don’t need to be a nuclear scientist to understand why it works. They are accessible, and in that lies their brilliance.

Max Little is a mathematician who had a revelation that has changed the way Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed. All it takes is a 30-second phone call to determine unusual tremors in the voice. The success rate of the diagnosis is 99%. In 1867, Joseph Lister came up with his own amazingly simple idea that has saved our lives. A surgeon, Lister decided to wash his hands and surgical instruments with antiseptic solution before treating patients. Commonsense, right? It took him 20 years of tireless advocacy for the practice to be generally accepted.

Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore had their own revelation when it came to helping children stay healthy in the Philippines. We all know that kids like to explore, and they don’t clean what they don’t see as dirty – a potential risk to their health and wellbeing. You can’t see germs so why wash your hands? So with Procter & Gamble’s Safeguard, the team made germs visible in the form of a simple stamp. Teachers stamped the hands of their students every day as a reminder to wash their hands, and in just one month, sick days fell by half. Now show me data that could have come up with that brilliant idea.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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