Pre Thinking
Challenges and problems can derail your creative process … or they can make you more creative than ever. In the surprising story behind the best-selling solo piano album of all time, Tim Harford may just convince you of the advantages of having to work with a little mess. (Op cit.)

Who is he?

Tim Harford’s writings reveal the economic ideas behind every day experiences.

In the Undercover Economist column, he writes for the Financial Times, Tim Harford looks at familiar situations in unfamiliar ways and explains the fundamental principles of the modern economy. He illuminates them with clear writing and a variety of examples borrowed from daily life. (Op cit.)

Why you should view?

His book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure, argues that the world has become far too unpredictable and complex for today’s challenges to be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinions. Instead, Harford suggests, we need to learn to embrace failure and to constantly adapt, to improvise rather than plan, to work from the bottom up rather than the top down.

Harford also presents the BBC radio series More or Less, a rare broadcast program devoted, as he says, to “the powerful, sometimes beautiful, often abused but ever ubiquitous world of numbers.”

He says: “I’d like to see many more complex problems approached with a willingness to experiment.” (Op cit.)

Discussion Questions

  1. Describe the relationship between Keith Jarrett’s response to frustration and the outcome of his performance.
  2. What research method did Daniel Oppenheimer use?
  3. What outcome do we see from people with weak or porous attention filters?
  4. How does “mess” enhance creativity or complex problem solving?
  5. Why were three friends and a stranger better at solving problems than four friends?
  6. Create your own set of oblique strategy cards and use them when your own creativity is stuck.

Making Connections

Here is another Ted Talk by Harford, Trial, error and the God complex:


Want to put some creativity into your life? Maybe you should play more. Watch this:

How messy problems can inspire creativity with Tim Harford


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