Marco Marsan has made a successful career for
himself out of thinking creatively, or more specifically, helping others to do
so. The consulting group he founded, Marco Polo Explorers, has helped corporate
giants like Nike and General Mills launch new products and solve many problems.
Now he brings some of his techniques to the masses with his new book, Think
The basic premise of "thinking naked" is
that if we could recapture the openness and creativity we had a children, we
could solve problems much more effectively.
"Children are relentlessly curious, eager to explore, and less
concerned with limitations than with possibilities. Like adult creative giants,
children possess an instinct for creative thinking, for seeing the world in a
way that too many of us have completely forgotten," Marsan writes, citing
statistics that show that ninety-eight percent of children in the three to five
year age group score in the genius category on a series of standardized tests,
while only two percent of adults do as well. Marsan interprets these results to
mean that we all start out with nearly unlimited mental potential, but most of
us lose it somewhere along the way.
Each of the eight chapters in the book has a catchy,
child-oriented title like "See Saw" and "Show-n-Tell." Each
presents a number of concepts, also named in memorable sound bytes:
"Monster Under The Bed," "Go Down Swinging," "His
Truck Is Better," and so on. Each of these illustrates a point in Marsan's
naked thinking plan. "Monster Under The Bed," for instance, deals
with the importance of confronting your fears, while "His Truck Is
Better" discusses how to select the best-qualified people to help you with
The most important principles in the whole program
seem to be openness to new ideas - in pop culture lingo, "thinking outside
the box" - and getting help when needed, which Marsan terms cheating. "Celebrities cheat all the time,"
he writes. "Whenever I'm stuck for an idea, I cheat. I'll bring in a slew
of people who think differently than I do - experts, textperts, choking
smokers, consumers, artists, writers, fighters, old lamplighters - anyone who
can give me a new, fresh perspective. Smart people look up, around, on their
neighbor's paper - anywhere for suggestions, answers and to stimulate their
thinking. You knew that. So why would you hesitate to get the same kind of
Marsan's presentation is witty and original, and his
writing style is definitely very readable. However, a lot of this information
is essentially the same as that presented in many time management and
creativity seminars all over the country. The book is certainly a worthwhile
read, and may help motivate and inspire many, but it is not a creativity
cure-all. The ideas he presents may be
helpful, but a famous quote from Thomas Edison that Marsan uses to head one
section of the book just about sums it all up: "Genius is one percent
inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
© 2003 April Chase
April Chase is a freelance journalist
and book reviewer who lives in Western Colorado. She is a regular contributor
to a number of publications, including The Business Times of Western Colorado
and Dream Network Journal.