Google's Marissa Ann Mayer was the instant hit of Davos in the very first day of the World Economic Forum. The vp of Search Products and User Experience beat out Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO in an audience vote for the person with the most creative idea about creativity in an early morning session on Innovation and Design Strategy. All of the participants of a panel on innovation, creativity and design were voted "off the island." They included Sir George Cox, chairman of the Design Council in the UK, Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of the Acumen Fund, Kigge Hvid, director of INDEX in Denmark and others--all of whom had some pretty wonderful ideas of their own.
But it was Marissa twin notion that the most creative solutions to problems come out of two interracting concepts--constraints that frame a problem combined with "a healthy disregard for the impossible and unconventional." This yin and yang dialect directs innovation, while opening the range of possibilities to all kinds of outcomes. Mayer said that if you only accept restraints, you feel powerless to create. You need to disrespect the impossible to free you to see new opportunities and solutions. So this is what they do at Google to make it perhaps the most successful serial innovator around.
Time Brown said the secret to being creative was having a Beginners Mind and combining that with fast prototyping to learn your way to a solution. Bring in new and fresh people to brainstorming sessions, try out new people and ideas for early prototyping concepts to see things differently. Work on problems you've never worked on with people you've never teamed up with. Brown added that the first thing people should do is challenge the way a problem is presented. "Changing the framed of the problem is often the most important part of being creative," he said.
All the panel members were articulate but Marissa was clearly the most dynamic and persuasive. Clearly, this woman is a performer who would be successful on any stage.