A brainstorm in a teacup – creativity to go

In Trucking Toward a Better Future 20235 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 10, 2023

The 2023 Trucking Toward a Better Future competition closes next Wednesday, 15 November 2023. There’s still time to get your entries in! Lindsay Wood offers some inspirational thinking.

I have such fun, and many surprises, writing these pieces. This one shouldn’t be fun as I’ve got my back mega-hard against the wall on heaps of projects, but even that pressure has given me an idea for the article: creativity in a hurry.

People who know me will say I live in a state of chronic overcommitment – I find so many pressing things to attend to, so many amazing things that catch my attention, that “the harder I work the behinder I get.”

So, here’s the first bit of fun, and surprise. I wrote that as a Winnie the Pooh quote, but thought I’d better check. Not Winnie the Pooh. Not even Lewis Caroll of Alice in Wonderland fame (though lots of Google hits said it was). It was – wait for it – from a conversation involving two truck drivers (yay!), at the Michigan Central Terminal in January 1943. A clerk overheard them chatting, and jotted down:

Ya gettin’ caught up with your work, Bill?”

“Naw,” replied Bill, dejectedly, “the harder I work the behinder I get.”

Go, Bill! I love it! I’ve written before about the link between humour and creativity, and Bill’s just given us a great example. And in a way it leads us to brainstorming, which I’m guessing most of us have heard about.

For those that haven’t, it’s where a group works quick-fire together to come up with lots of different ideas about a situation, regardless of whether they’re all sensible. In fact, “suspending judgement” and going for crazy ideas are key parts of brainstorming. Nobody should say “that wouldn’t work”, or “that’s weird”. The selection process comes later.

Ideas are written where everybody can see them, and a trick is to deliberately bounce off what other people have suggested. Apparently the famous “droop nose” of the Concorde jetliner came from brainstorming. I guess it might have gone something like:

PROBLEM: Pilots can’t see the runway because of the long nose.


Shorten the nose

Pilots’ seats lift up

Always land on instruments

Put a window underneath the nose

Use mirrors

Hinge the nose down

Use video cameras

And it doesn’t have to be a group session. I sometimes brainstorm on my own, scribbling down ideas. I even made up the Concorde list above (though I doubt I’d imagine the droop nose if I hadn’t heard of it).

I’m not a total fan of brainstorming: it can kick start creative thinking, and get people bouncing thoughts off each other, but doesn’t encourage deep thinking, and work is needed to transform brainstorming into a solution. But it’s surprising where your mind can run once it starts freewheeling, and that can quickly give ideas to work with.

So, before I finish, I’ll practice what I preach, and give one-person brainstorming another go for my next article, the last one before TTBF closes.

PROBLEM: Theme for the last TTBF article


Getting entries in

Summary of past articles

Merry Christmas everyone

Getting ready for TTBF 2024

Time for convergent thinking

List heavy transport problems for the climate

Examples in other industries

Einstein and understanding the problem

That’s a genuine list, folks, written on the hoof, and could easily get longer. But having written the last item I thought I’d better double check I did understand the problem and, guess what, I didn’t! The laugh is on me because THIS is the last article before the competition closes. Duh! I’d got further ahead on my writing than I realised. More lessons there, eh?

So, this is me signing off for 2023. Good luck in the competition, and I hope we cross paths again in 2024. And, of course, don’t be allodoxaphobic, and do get your entry in!

The Trucking Toward a Better Future competition closes on 15 November 2023. Visit nztrucking.co.nz/category/trucking-toward-a-better-future-2023/ for full details on how to enter, and to find more weekly inspirational updates.

– by Lindsay Wood, director, Resilienz