Jennifer B. Davis
Have you ever wondered where some of the amazing innovations of our time started? How the ideas even started to germinate in the minds of their inventors? I couldn't help but think of that when I saw this slide show about paper art. I love the sense of whimsy and want that in my own approach to my work, so let's break it down.

1. Choose Constraints Carefully

Who said paper needs to be 2-dimensional? If you see the hummingbird on slide 11, you might think differently. Don't accept a constraint or an assumption without thorough investigation and acceptance of the consequences. Sometimes restraint around resources, time, or the laws of physics can not be avoided...but sometimes they can.

2. Start with the End and Work Backwards

It was popularized by Stephen Covey and stands true: you'll do better if you start with the end in mind. Starting with a 2-dimensional sheet, a 3-dimensions of experience were created by thinking about the opposite, or the visual negative, of what was trying to be created. The butterflies on the first slide, and the dangling man on slide 19 (my favorite), are both negative images that create stunning display. They can also create brilliant strategy. If you have read the book Blue Ocean, than you know what I mean. Why not do something exactly the opposite of what your competition is doing? Why not take an original idea and find an alternate way to accomplish it? Why not change your perspective? I love the dangling man image because the same image in reverse shows both a person falling and a person trying to prevent someone from falling. Brilliant!

3. Cut the Puzzle Lines Afterwards

The castle on slide 9 illustrates this well. The castle stands tall with spires and thick walls. The raw materials used to create the castle are different. They take a larger horizontal footprint (in square inches). They do not look like castle walls. The pieces that become spires appear to be fans. The walls appear to be combs and so on. Creating innovative products and services require leaders with the ability to see beyond the puzzle of how things you already have will fit together, but rather on how the resources at hand could be brought together to create the vision. It is "tops down" and "bottoms up" in parallel. (Note: in my professional life, I spend a lot of time and energy completing organizational/operational "jig saw puzzles," gluing them together, and then recutting the jigsaw lines along departmental, functional, geographic, or efficiency boundaries; perhaps that is why this art really is resonating with me).

4. Look for Inspiration, Beware of Dangers

Don't stick with a single theme. Don't limit your input or perspectives, as they might help you avoid pitfalls later. There is nothing to say that you have to continue in the direction you are heading. See the waterfall (slide 17) facing the unsuspecting canoe adventurers in slide 16.

5. Tell a Story

Don't forget that stories that are easy to repeat, get repeated. See slide 6 for a great example of this.
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