Obvious Adams - om at gøre det indlysende


Da Obvious Adams udkom i bogform september 1916 skrev New York Times: "The young man who is going to seek his fortune in the advertising business should have Obvious Adams for a handbook. Indeed, any young man who is going to seek his fortune in anything might be aided by the common sense and business acumen displayed in this volume."

Kort fortalt handler historien om en ung mand, der vil ind i reklamebranchen. Fra starten som arkivmedarbejder til han sidder som boss på et reklamebureau er der ét svar på, hvorfor han lykkes: Han gør det selvfølgelige. The obvious. Derfor får han kælenavnet Obvious Adams.

Og selv om skriftet nærmer sig sin 100 års fødselsdag er der ikke mange af os som kan postulere, at temaet i dag er uaktuelt. Som bureauchefen, der ansætter Adams, filosoferer efter det første møde: "It all struck me in a heap: How many of us have sense enough to see and do the obvious thing? And how many of us have persistency enough in following out our ideas of what is obvious? The more I thought of it the more convinced I became that in our organization there ought to be some place for a lad who had enough sense to see the obvious thing to do and then to go about it directly, without any fuss or fireworks, and do it!".

Forfatteren har senere tilføjet fem metoder til at teste "the obviousness of ideas and plans", og fem kreative forslag "for seeing and doing the obvious".
Overskrifterne for de "Five tests of Obviousness" er:

  1. This problem when solved will be simple
  2. Does it check with human nature
  3. Put it on paper ... Write out your idea, plan og project in words of one or two syllables, as though you were explaining it to a child...
  4. Does it EXPLODE in people's minds?
  5. Is the time ripe?

De fem kreative forslag er citeret her i forkortet form:

Five Creative Approaches
to the Obvious
WHERE or HOW shall we go about it to discover the obvious?
Here are five test questions that will at least start the imagination along obvious lines:

1. Never mind how a thing has always been done, or how other people want to do it. What is the simplest possible way of doing it?
Strip off all the accumulated ideas, practices, methods, techniques and traditions.
... It takes simple, fresh, bold, original thinking to simplify anything. And - never forget - "This problem when solved will be simple."

2. Suppose the whole thing were to be completely reversed?
Nothing opens the mind wider to a new approach than to ask oneself this bold question.

3. Can a vote be taken on it, or the public's help actively enlisted?
Too many business decisions are made in the office instead of out where life is going on.
.... Very often some simple test, with a group of people or a cross-section of the public, will develop the obvious preference, or the obvious way of doing, making, or saying something. Since it is the public which makes or breaks us in everything we attempt to do, it seems utterly obvious to check our plans against a segment of the public, before going too far.

4. What opportunity is being overlooked because no one has bothered to develop it?
... Benjamin Franklin, bothered by the need for two pairs of spectacles, one for looking at things nearby, and another for seeing things at a distance, developed bifocal spectacles, which have been a boon to humanity. Nothing could be more obvious.
Which suggests that as a technique for discovering the obvious, we should take a bifocal look at everything we use and do and need - examine it close-up to see if some detail might not be improved; push it off and study it in the large, to see if there may not be some entirely different way of accomplishing the same end. Some way that is simpler, more efficient, more economical.

5. What are the special needs of the situation?
Often the situation itself dictates its own specification, or presents some special - but overlooked - opportunity for improvement.
... The world is full of unexpressed, unsensed needs, waiting for the man or woman who will bring obviousness to bear on the unsolved problems of everyday living. They will be richly rewarded!

Kilde: Robert R. Updegraff: Obvious Adams

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