💎 On the remarkable persistence of ideas that are no longer appropriate (fire engines and police cars)

If you thought that ambulances, fire engines and police cars have blue lights in order to be seen better — then you thought wrong. Emergency vehicles have blue lights in order not to be seen…. During the Second World War, the Gestapo began to use blue lights on their cars so as not to disturb the blackout of German cities, which was in force to protect them from the bombers of the Allied Forces. Blue lights are difficult to detect when it is dark. After the war, other police forces continued to use blue lights, although it was totally illogical to do so.

This story about the colour of police lights just goes to show how difficult it can be to introduce a better idea, even though the present one is not effective. The same thing is true of red fire engines. Perhaps you have noticed that ambulances and fire engines in many cites are, in fact, bright yellow? A much more suitable colour for emergency vehicles as bright yellow can be seen more easily in traffic both day and night. Although most of those involved in the fire fighting forces knew that red was not the most suitable colour for the job, it took decades before they dared replace their red vehicles. This might be comforting when you have an excellent idea that no one has any time for!

Excerpt from: The Idea Book by Fredrik Härén

💎 On the need to seek inspiration in different places to the competition (to beat the competition)

John Taylor of GM’s APEX department, which manufactures extreme concept cars, once explained why his department stopped going to car exhibitions. His main argument was that everyone in the automobile business goes to the same exhibitions and that is why they all come up with the same ideas. Instead, John Taylor and his team began to attend computer game and toy exhibitions, and fashion shows. If you think about it, it is easy to see that a car designer can find as much inspiration from a toy exhibition as a car exhibition. Probably more. And they probably had a better time, too.

Excerpt from: The Idea Book by Fredrik Härén

💎 On the power of a name (Paradise Island)

There is an island in the West Indies that was once called Hog Island. Hog Island was a very beautiful island, hut it was difficult to attract tourists to it. Then, one day, a clever person had the bright idea of changing the name of the island and, suddenly, it was inundated by tourists. What was the island’s new name? Paradise Island!

So, don’t use words carelessly. See the power in the meaning of words and use this power to develop your idea.

Excerpt from: The Idea Book by Fredrik Härén

💎 On the life-saving benefits of breaking the rules (during the Second World War)

Guilford’s own story is an interesting one. He was a psychologist who, during the Second World War, worked on personality tests designed to pick out the most suitable bomber pilot candidates. In order to do this, Guilford used intelligence tests, a grading system and personal interviews. He was annoyed because the Air Force had also assigned a retired air force pilot without psychological training to help in the selection process. Guilford did not have much faith in the retired officer’s experience.

It turned out that Guilford and the retired officer chose different candidates. After a while, their work was evaluated and, surprisingly, the pilots chosen by Guilford were shot down and killed much more frequently than those selected by the retired pilot. Guilford later confessed to being so depressed about sending so many pilots to their deaths that he considered suicide. Instead of this course of action, he decided to find out why the pilots chosen by the retired pilot had fared so much better than those he had selected.

The old pilot said that he had asked one question to all the would-be pilots: “What would you do if your plane was shot at by German anti-aircraft when you were flying over Germany?” He ruled out everyone who answered, I’d fly higher’. Those who answered, “I don’t know — maybe I’d dive ” or “I’d zigzag” or “I’d roll and try to avoid the gunfire by turning” all gave the wrong answer according to the rule book. The retired pilot, however, chose his candidates from the group that answered incorrectly. The soldiers who followed the manual were also very predictable and that is where Guilford failed. All those he chose answered according to the manual. The problem was that even the Germans knew that you should fly higher when under fire and their fighter planes therefore lay in wait above the clouds ready to shoot down the American pilots. In other words, it was the creative pilots who survived more often than those who may have been more intelligent, but who stuck by the rules!

Excerpt from: The Idea Book by Fredrik Härén