Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oprah, Black Eyed Peas, Dancers, Questions & Innovation!

Questions are powerful. First they enable the possible to be imagined, and then they enable the imagined to be created.

To illustrate I refer to the amazing Flash Dance Mob that occurred at Oprah's 24th year season opening party in Michigan Avenue, Chicago. As part of the celebration the Black Eyed Peas performed their hit "I Got a Feeling" to the 21,000 strong crowd. Unbeknown to Oprah who was on stage with the Black Eyed Peas, several hundred dancers were strategically placed throughout the crowd. The crowd had been informed that if they wanted to join in the dance then they should simply follow the moves of the people around them. The result was that the majority of the crowd joined in the dance, started by a single dancer strategically placed in front of the stage. If you haven't seen the clip, turn up your volume and watch it now.

It was an amazing spectacle! The beauty of the crowd dancing together was that it embodies action. There is no denying it, the whole crowd took action, danced together and created an amazing spectacle and surprise for Oprah.

So how does something like this dance get created? Quite simply, someone (probably the producer Australian Michael Gracey) asked a question, something like, "What if we could get the whole crowd to dance together?". This question would have sparked the imagination of those people who were involved in the conversation, more questions would have followed and eventually a plan would have been created. At the start of the dance no-one, including Michael Gracey would have known that the dance would actually work. Yet it did work. And it all started with a question.

'"What if" questions are often powerful because they allow people to imagine what might be possible. What if questions often lead to innovation. Unfortunately I can't remember the source, but I once learned that innovation comes from getting something and putting it with something different. In this case, dancers were put together with a crowd and voila, innovation occurred. Questions played a central role in enabling the innovation to be realised.

When was the last time that you asked a powerful question? What happened, what did you create and what something did you put with something different to create something new?

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