77 Check the Facts to Innovate…

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 77

You need to check your facts if you want to overcome challenges…

 “You can’t make progress in a bear hunt if you follow the tracks of a deer.”

Dean Koontz – Author in “The Good Guy”

                  “You can’t make progress in a beer hunt if you follow a bad steer.”

John Brooker – Author in “The Cross Keys”

Check the facts to innovate

Exit pursued by bear

Have you checked the facts…?

Sometimes, I have to do something stupid to remember the basics of Creative Thinking. Recently, I co-hosted an informal gathering in a pub in London for students who had recently passed their Open University MBA exams. It was a “drop in evening” when we would meet anyone who turned up at 6.00 p.m. in “The Counting House” pub in London. Regrettably, Elvin Box, my co-host, was stuck on a train at that time. I followed my map and found myself outside “The Cross Keys” pub where a man directed me to turn left down an alleyway, walk some distance and then I would find “The Counting House”. Following his instructions, I arrived at the end of the alley where a number of people stood outside a pub door. As there was no pub sign, I inquired if it were “The Counting House” and a lady assured me it was.

Finding a seat in the very crowded bar, I put up a “Beer Mat Night” sign (to the amusement of fellow drinkers) and proceeded to wait… and wait. Elvin called at 7.00 p.m. to say he was half an hour away. Still nobody had arrived. I felt like Johnny No Mates as I nursed my beer, edging the sign away from me in embarrassment, unable to move lest I lost my seat.

By 7.30 p.m. I was very frustrated and thirsty when Elvin rang to say he was in the pub and couldn’t find me. I assured him I was sitting by the front door. Five minutes later, he called again. Confused, I asked a member of staff the name of the pub I was in, only to be told it was ”The Cross Keys”. Somehow, I had managed to walk round the block and enter the pub by the back door…..


I think you can guess the lesson here. The first step when you tackle any challenge is to identify the facts of the situation and if you are not sure of the source, seek another one. In his book “Simplex – Flight to Creativity”, Min Basadur of McGill University, Canada, outlines six questions which can help to identify quickly the key facts in a situation (I have included my answers in brackets). The last one would have been useful for me!

  • What do you know or think you know about the “fuzzy situation”? (I know the pub is around here somewhere.)
  • What don’t you know but would like to know? (Is this the right pub?)
  • Why is this a problem for you? (I have people expecting me and I want a beer.)
  • What would you have that you don’t have now if this problem were solved? (A beer and some company!)
  • What have you thought of or tried already? (I asked someone before and they said it was the right pub.)
  • What assumptions are you making that you should not be making? (Aha! I assumed the person who told me knew what she was taking about.)

By asking these questions you can identify facts, but also, identify where you may be making an error .


Think of a situation that you have now. Use the six questions above and record short and clear answers. Choose the facts that you think are most relevant.

To close

Leaving my treasured seat in “The Cross Keys”, I went to the back of the pub in search of the entrance that I had entered. I looked everywhere, went upstairs, downstairs, round the corner. Could I find it? No. I thought I was on the set of a Harry Potter film. In despair, I gave up and retraced my route to the front door and set off again, nearly two hours late. I eventually found “The Counting House”, Elvin and even a couple of others who had not given up hope that we might appear. I certainly won’t forget that evening in a hurry and next time, I’ll check my facts sooner rather than later.

Check your facts and have a great week.

John Brooker I Facilitate, Innovate, Transform.

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