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*A Book Review*

Think Out Of The Box

By Mike Vance and Diane Deacon

by Michael C. Gray

January 29, 1999

Mike Vance is the former Dean of Disney University. He has worked with many organizations, including the fledgling Apple Computer Corporation and General Electric, to build environments and systems conducive to encouraging creative teamwork.

Mike's books are especially wonderful because he shares his memories of working with Walt Disney, Roy Disney and E. Cardon Walker (former CEO) at the Walt Disney Company, especially relating to building Walt Disney World.

In nine chapters, Mike shares his formulas and techniques to encourage creativity. At the end of each chapter, there is a profile of a role model. The role models include Norman Brinker (Pillsbury and Brinker, International), Thomas Edison, Louis L'Amour, Frank Lloyd Wright, Dr. J. Vernon Luck (orthopedic surgeon), Dr. R. Buckminster Fuller, A.C. (Mike) Markkula (co-founder of Apple Computer), Jack Welch (General Electric) and Walt Disney.

According to Mike, there are nine elements under a vision and method in the success formula for "breaking out of the box" of non-creativity. (In addition to a vision/mission, you must have a method to put it in action.) The success formula elements are informed, involved, inspired, place, people, product, caring, cooperating, and creating.

As a creative center for organizations, Mike developed the Team Center™. "Team Centers are large group rooms in which people work, create and socialize together in a resource-rich environment with unique communications and creative thinking techniques." Within the Team Center, the Creative Thinking Technique System is implemented with the MICORBS™ format. The seven steps of the MICORBS format are (1) Master Plan; (2) Idea Development; (3) Communications; (4) Organization; (5) Retrieval; (6) Briefing Board; (7) Synapse. MICORBS is based on the storyboard method developed by The Walt Disney Company.

Mike also encourages individuals to build an area like the Team Center in their homes, which he calls a "Kitchen for the Mind." A Kitchen for the Mind is an environment designed to nourish your mind.

Four activities take place in the Kitchen for the Mind: projects, programs, celebrations and individual or personal activities.

According to Mike, there are nine fundamental questions to ask about relating to a problem or project to encourage creative thinking. He calls this the Concept of Nine.

(1) Assess the way things are. (2) Seek realistic thinking. (3) See the vision. (4) Ask why. (5) Become change centered. (6) Tap into ability. (7) Ask how. (8) Don't sanction incompetence. (9) Implementation and action.

Roy Disney inspired Mike's "New Leadership Paradigm":

"Leadership is the ability to establish standards and manage a creative climate where people are self-motivated toward the mastery of long-term constructive goals in a participatory environment of mutual respect compatible with personal values."

Here is a small piece of a conversation with Walt Disney that Mike shared in this book.

"Do you remember when you were a little boy and it would be raining hard outside? Do you remember how good it felt to be warm and cozy inside your house with a warm fire burning in the fireplace? Do you remember how secure it made you feel? Do you remember the smell? These are exciting things to remember. . .

"Do you want to know something more exciting than what we've been talking about?

"It's to be an adult like we are now and look back through the window of memory, remembering the time when we were little children, but it's even more exciting to know that we became the kind of people we dreamed about as children. Do you know what that's called?

"Fulfillment! That is called fulfillment. It's what every person hopes life will be like for them. I hope you have that kind of feeling in your life, Mike. I hope you become what you dreamed you could be when you were a little boy."

Reading and applying the ideas in Think Out Of The Box will provide formulas for developing the systems you need to improve your personal creativity and creativity in the organizations you participate in. You should definitely add it to your reading list. Visit the website for Think Out Of The Box at

Buy it on Amazon: Think Out of the Box.

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