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109Embrace Life

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  • Steve Freeman
    Apr 21, 2010
      I posted the following message to a Yahoo group I manage on Creativity and Innovation in Organizations and Work [CIOW], but it applies specifically to the potential value of systems thinking in inspiring creativity.


      This public service announcement, Embrace Life not only will touch you (and possibly save your life), but also touches on several CIOW themes. Among the ways in which the ad is both very effective and very creative:
      • big picture conception what seat belt use is really all about
      • simplicity in focusing in on that message, eliminating everything extraneous, even road and car and the mechanical seat belt itself
      • production aesthetics, including  juxtaposition of slow motion with the suddenness of the "crash" and flying shards of colored glass
      • imagery of the title word, "embrace" life.
      Especially noteworthy is the use of an improvisational analog, i.e., human embrace substituting for the car's safety belts. Rather than make-do make-believe, the human embrace can be understood as the higher real thing, sort of a Platonic Form, for which the seat belt is the earthly substitute. Indeed one reason people may fail to wear a safety belt is because they see it too concretely as a metal mechanical device; when metaphorically understood as the warm embrace of a beloved wife and child, the act of buckling up a seat belt no longer implies locking oneself in, but rather ensconced protection.

      The ad also illustrates potential value of systems thinking in inspiring creativity. First, through contextualizing: Driving a car can be understood as a extension of one's family life, indeed as a period where one is vulnerable away from hearth and home and engaged in what we often forget is a very dangerous activity. Situating the simulated driving inside the living room effectively illustrates this basic relationship.

      Even more fundamentally, a systems approach can often lead to effective innovation by putting purpose front and center. Driver Ed films that graphically depict crashes and mutilated bodies are certainly effective to a point, but negative motivation only goes so far. To change a behavior, we need to also hold front and center an answer to "Who cares?"  Embrace Life provides an extraordinarily powerful, enduring answer and affirming vision.
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