Hat’s off to the wise fool

Roger von Oech is an author, inventor, and consultant on stimulating creativity in business. His blog http://blog.creativethink.com/ featured an intriguing post: “Think Like a Wise Fool.”

Von Oech writes:

Carrying the strategy of “looking at things differently” to extremes brings us to the realm of the Wise Fool, the being for whom everyday ways of understanding have little meaning.

It’s the wise fool’s job to extol the trivial, trifle with the exalted, and parody the common perception of a situation. In doing so, the fool makes us conscious of the habits we take for granted and rarely question. A good fool needs to be part actor and part poet, part philosopher and part psychologist.

And throughout history, the wise fool has been consulted by Egyptian pharaohs and Babylonian kings, Chinese emperors, Greeks tyrants, and Hopi Indian chiefs.

Here’s what a wise fool can accomplish by making us re-look and re-think our work:

  • reverse our standard assumptions
  • notes things that other people overlook
  • be irreverent
  • be cryptic
  • be absurd
  • challenge viewpoints by taking the contrary position

von Oech concludes his post by pointing out: “The great benefit of the wise fool’s antics and observations is that they stimulate our thinking. They jolt us in the same way that a splash of cold water awakens us when we are drowsy.”

By George recommends this post and the blog for those who wish to place assumptions in question and refocus their thinking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *