Monday, September 21, 2015

Creative Pokes (Part Two)

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For about 15 years, I worked for a rather large corporation: Lear Siegler.  At the division where I worked, I was their in-house video production guy, a job which also also included a fair amount of product photography. Example-- sometimes being their video and photography guy included hanging out the side of a single-engine Cesna (tethered with the passenger door removed) as I video recorded and photographed one of their products, an experimental reconnaissance drone, during test flights over the Mojave Desert. (And you thought all I've ever professionally shot has been pretty girls. Fellow photographers, please.)

Lear Siegler Inc. was comprised of many divisions all over the country.  (For a time, LSI even owned Smith & Wesson.)  I worked, primarily, in Santa Monica, CA, at their Astronics division. I also sometimes worked at their Developmental Sciences division, which was located in Ontario, CA.

 Primarily, Lear Astronics designed and manufactured flight control systems for military aircraft-- from the F-16 to the Tomahawk cruise missile and on to the stealth fighter and stealth bomber, Astronics was a major player in military flight control technologies and more.

The original Lear Corp., prior to merging with the Siegler Corp., was founded by Bill Lear. Bill Lear is most famous for giving the world the Lear Jet. Bill was an inventor, creator, and technology developer extraordinaire. Example: The "Lear Jet Stereo 8" cartridge audio device was soon marketed to consumers as -- yep, you guessed it --  the 8-Track stereo tape player. Interestingly, Bill's most famous (and possibly most successful) endeavor, the Lear Jet, is the reason Bill resigned from the board of Lear Siegler and sold his shares in the company. You see, the board thought Bill's idea to develop and produce a small commercial jet was a really bad idea and (probably driving that notion) a too-costly idea. So, they nixed it. Bill, in turn, said sayonarra to Lear Sielger and went his own way to develop and manufacture the aircraft without them. That aspect of Bill's life and legacy is a notable part of aviation history.

Because of Bill Lear's creativity influence on Lear Siegler, and even more so on the Astronics division (where I worked) because that's where Bill himself once worked, ideas were always very encouraged. (We still had a few employees at the division who once worked directly with Bill.) The Astronics division instituted some robust internal programs which actively encouraged and fostered employees -- from engineers to assembly line workers -- to share their ideas. And they rewarded them for ideas which were, ultimately, implemented!  Those rewards also included the company sharing ownership of any patents or trademarks which might result from an employee's idea. Astronics regularly held "brainstorming" sessions among groups of it's employees. (On company time, of course.)  The prime directive of those sessions was: There is no such thing as a bad idea!

"There is no such thing as a bad idea" gets me back to what I'm writing about, i.e., creative pokes. If you treat all your ideas as good or bad, you will probably leave your self-described "bad ideas" in the dust. Potentially, those "bad ideas" might have led to some really good ideas but you'll never know that because you kicked your "bad ideas" to the curb.

You see, with some added work, brainstorming, developing, pokes, whatever you want to call it, all your ideas, good or bad, are worthy of pursuing to some degree, at least at first and for a time. I guarantee if you do so, you will either A) turn your ho-hum, not-so-great, possibly lackluster or even turd of an idea into an idea worth pursuing, one with luster. less turd-like, and more or B) it will often lead you to another idea, perhaps one completely different, that is worth pursuing. That's how many people's creative minds work.

When it comes to ideas, we are often our own worst enemies because we too often eighty-six them before we give them a chance to bloom into something worth developing more. Course, your not-so-great idea might remain a not-so-good idea but you'll never truly know that unless you give it, at the very least, a half a chance to bloom or to morph into something else, i.e. a good idea. Sometimes, a truly stellar idea!

The gratuitous eye-candy at the top is Jennifer. Pic was snapped at a location house in the Silverlake District of Los Angeles. I used a 5' Photoflex Octo for my main, pretty much on-axis with the model, plus a small, shoot-through, umbrella, camera-left, to the rear of the model for an accent light. The French windows provided the balance of the light for the image.


Bill Giles said...

Big companies are pretty adept at not taking advantage of opportunities and at making products which are almost indistinguishable from their competitor's products.

I often fail to implement some of my own ideas because I think that it will be too much work. Once in a while an opportunity comes along and it just happens before I can think of a reason not to.

jimmyd said...

@Bill: I wonder how many great ideas have become great products or great works of art because those with the ideas went ahead before thinking of reasons not to?