A failure of imagination is a circumstance wherein something seemingly predictable (particularly from hindsight) and undesirable was not planned for. This particular circumstance is usually attributed to 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. But all too often I see the same type of failure when it comes to creative endeavors. A locked down plan with no room for improvisation or nuance is sometimes so predictable as to be irrelevant.
Sometimes, when I am called in to help develop a project, my mind will naturally run to a bunch of other possibilities that could maybe widen the scope and reach a larger audience. Or even add additional information to enhance the application. By not being open to the unpredictable and unexpected you leave a lot on the table and stanch the flow of creative thought.
During the ideation process, I sometimes see the look of confusion or bewilderment when I start to offer possibilities that gently guide them a bit off script. Not to change but to enhance. This is what I do. It is always challenging, so I have learned techniques to get them to reach their own conclusion 🙂 It is also not unusual to have someone come up with an idea that was proposed and rejected earlier in the meeting. Funny how that works.
I have spent many years accumulating “seat time” in conference rooms across the country participating in this process and the cast of players vary a bit but not by much. There is sometimes the owner of the original idea who feels protective and feels any variation is an attack or the project will not be identified with them if it is successful. There is always a risk of “lock down” when someone feels threatened or feels as though their big idea is being abandoned. Unfortunate.
You will also have a supporting cast with varying degrees of interest. Some have been chosen and just want to get it over with and some disagree with the concept completely but don’t have an alternative. Therein lies the challenge.
The objective is to conceptualize an idea and then embellish it into maturity. A band that goes into the recording studio with preplanned material almost never walks out with what they walked in with. It is a process. You gotta love it!
So the failure of imagination can damage, derail and deprive the original concept of all its possibilities. Learning to embrace the process can be an enlightening, exhilarating experience for all involved and ensure a successful, effective product.