“Here’s to the crazy ones,” begins Apple’s famous Think Different ad campaign of the mid-1990s, “the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers”. It’s a celebration of history’s most creative people, drawing an interesting parallel between them: innovators from Mr Albert Einstein to Sir Richard Branson and Mr Pablo Picasso have all taken a rather interpretative approach to the status quo.
There’s a peculiar alchemy to the creative process that many of us would love to feel more comfortable with. But Mr Jonah Sachs, author of Unsafe Thinking – a new book intended to help you be “creative and bold when you need it the most” – says that playing it safe isn’t the answer. “So much creativity comes from when people break the rules,” he says. “There’s a huge value in interrupting people’s expectations and surprising them.”
But what does it actually mean to think “unsafely”? In Mr Sachs’ book, we are essentially encouraged to try doing the opposite of what we are told – or, more accurately, what we think we are being told. It’s a behaviour that Mr Sachs refers to as “productive dissent”. And yes, it can be applied in the workplace. However, before you start ignoring everything your boss asks you to do, consider why you could sometimes benefit from doing so – and how you’ll explain yourself afterwards. “Most importantly, you should be honest about why [you dissented]”, says Mr Sachs, “Say how, and why, you did what you did – why you did it for the good of the group, for instance, or so the company could meet its larger objectives.”