Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Man Who Made BOOOOM!

Today is the 175 birthday of Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896), who, in his will, left much of his enormous fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes.

In case you didn’t know, Nobel was also the creator of dynamite. He discovered that by combining nitroglycerine and diatomaceous earth (an easily crumbling rock similar to pumice) the resulting product was safer and more convenient to handle.

It is commonly believed that the erroneous publication in 1888 of a premature obituary of Nobel by a French newspaper, condemning him for his invention of dynamite, is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death. The obituary stated Le marchand de la mort est mort ("The merchant of death is dead") and went on to say, "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday."

Biographers believe the one personal trait of Nobel that helped him to sharpen his creativity was his talent for information access, via his multi-lingual skills. In short, Nobel sought information sources and asked more and better questions.

Do you ask more and better questions every day? Try the exercise below to bring you more information, cut down dramatically on erroneous assumptions and miscommunications, and increase creativity.

From this day forward, if you are in a meeting, write these seven questions down the left-hand side of your notes: What? Why? Who? Where? When? How? How Much?

Make sure you have answers to those questions before you leave the meeting and/or use the questions to spur creativity. I promise you will have fewer of those, “Duh?” moments.

And sometime today wish Dr. Nobel a happy BOOOOOOOOOM!

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