When Julie looks through the lens of her camera she is interested in what is in focus and what is out of focus. Sometimes what is in focus is so boring, it's the out of focus which interests her. The question that occupies her mind is: how do I bring that which is out of focus in focus?
The solution, for Julie, the photographer, is in thinking differently. In thinking what if I use this lens. Will the different lens bring what is out of focus in focus? What if I approach the subject from this angle? What if I slow the speed? Each time she uses her knowledge of photography and her camera to build on what is possible. To look outside her box.
Sukekawa is also interested in what is out of focus. She is one of Japan's most successful inventors. But it hasn't always been like that. In fact, she didn't start inventing until she was 57 years old.
Sukekawa was a physical education teacher at a High School in Japan. Then at 57 years of age she suffered from a 'serious medical problem' that could only be treated in Tokyo. So she and her husband decided that in order for her to receive the medical treatment she needed she had to resign from her job and they would both move to Tokyo.
In Tokyo, she was alone and ill, with no family and no friends. To inspire her and keep her spirits up her daughter suggested she join the local amateur inventors club.( Yes they really do have local inventors clubs in Japan)
She went and within a short time found that she was a big hit. She was coming up with many useful inventions. How?
Her system is simple:
"I always come up with something I want for my own use".
She works on the basis that most mass produced domestic items are designed by men, who, invariably, don't use the products. As a result they are poorly designed. Therefore if she has a problem using them so must every other person who buys and uses the product.
She is now a 67 year old grandmother and still inventing because:
"When I spot some inconvenience, I feel lucky because there is fun in overcoming it"
The stories of Julie and Sukekawa are similar. They are both looking for a solution. They are both looking for a different way of overcoming the deficiency they see before them. They are both looking for different ways of achieving the impossible.
When did you last look at an impossible problem and bring into focus the out of focus pieces? Do you use your past knowledge as a platform from which to jump or as a straight jacket to limit your thinking?
What is your process of discovery?
Graham and Julie
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