How Can a Sumo Wrestler Spark Your Next Out-of-This-World Idea?
When Apollo 13’s service module exploded 56 hours into its mission to the moon, it caused severe damage to the spacecraft and left the crew imperiled. Their only hope of returning safely to earth was if NASA engineers on the ground could figure out how to fit the square filter cartridge from the command module into the round filter for the lunar module. The astronauts desperately needed a way to filter out CO2 from their module, or they would die.
NASA engineers acted quickly. They spilled all the pieces and parts that the astronauts had available to them onto a table — a square filter, a cylindrical filter, hoses, cables, power cords, spacesuits, and more. Together, the team creatively brainstormed how to repurpose these objects so the crew of Apollo 13 could “MacGyver” a new filter and return safely back to earth.
Most of us won’t be called on like NASA was to brainstorm creative solutions in the midst of a life-threatening situation. But the Apollo 13 engineers’ response to the crisis — imagining new uses for available assets — is an object lesson, literally, in how analog brainstorming can unlock creativity.
Similarly (minus the lost-in-space, life-or-death implications), OX partnered with Mark Matlock, founder of Wisdom Works, to develop a way for teams to harness the power of analog brainstorming. Transformation requires disruption and discomfort. To help clients get “unstuck,” Wisdom Works uses interactive group sessions to help teams disrupt their status quo. They help teams replace “this is the way we’ve always done it” thinking with fresh, innovative ideas that propel them into a dynamic future.
After working with OX on many projects over the years, Mark observed how the OX team frequently starts a new client campaign with a real-world object — an analog item that can serve as a central metaphor for the campaign or brand.
Mark and OX collaborated on a list of objects — a Sumo wrestler, a chubby walrus, a random paper bag, a pickle, and more — seemingly disparate but eliciting creative connections and tested them with various focus groups. We began wondering if we could pair this list of objects with a card deck concept so that other teams could use the images to facilitate conversations and spark brainstorming and creative thinking.
Each deck includes exercises and ways to use the cards. At OX, we’ve used them at home and at work, in the U.S., and abroad. The Analog Deck is great for sparking meaningful one-on-one conversations or for breaking the ice with a group of people. We often use them as a powerful tool to help kickoff brainstorming sessions, both internally and with clients. We’ve laughed using them, and people have even cried as they’ve processed pain prompted by a memory from a card’s image.
Being able to take a completely random, real-world object, and ask, how it could be used as a piece to solve a different problem, helps to unlock parts of our thinking that we may not typically tap into. Depending on how you choose to use the cards, these images will help unlock surprising discoveries, spur on creativity, and spark deeper conversations.