Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Whack on the Side of the Head

Sometimes the most surprising things can get you thinking. Even the newspaper. I was sent an extraordinary story recently and whether it is true or not is kind of beside my point. It appears that during a speedway race, a Czech rider named Matej Kus fell off his bike and was badly concussed. Nothing surprising there. It was what happened next that was extraordinary. As Kus regained consciousness, it was discovered that he could speak perfect English, something he couldn’t do before the crash. Immediately I was reminded of a great Spike Milligan joke. A patient about to be wheeled into the operating theater asks the surgeon if he will be able to play the piano after his operation. When the surgeon reassured him that of course he would, the patient beamed. “That’s great. I couldn’t before.” Put Kus’s concussion and Spike’s joke together and you get close to the fantastic power that shaking up assumptions can have in getting you to new and unexpected places. It is what Roger von Oech famously described as A Whack on the Side of the Head. Although Mr Kus probably took it a little too literally, in my experience, the best way to have an idea is not to sit down at a meeting and talk endlessly at each other but to take yourself out into the world. A speedway perhaps?