Ebola: when thinking creatively is serious business (case study 11)

Ebola is an extremely serious issue, and, sadly, is also currently hot. Whether we believe or not all the buzz in the media, I think we can agree that having in place a robust set of mechanisms to prevent people dying or getting sick from a disease is just plain common sense.

In this post I try to humbly carry out a visual exercise on possible creative alternatives to setting strict controls in airport´s (probably absolutely necessary). I say humbly because I do not have any sort of applicable experience on this matter (medicine, epimediology, disease control or the sort), and I want to be very clear about this. I have an engineering and energy/environmental background and have no expertise whatsoever on disease control. If so, the only possible value I could provide with is looking at the situation with a new fresh pair of eyes. 

But most importantly, this example is not about obtaining an outright solution to the problem, but else about following on the mental process that results when the mind starts to work, with the help of creativity principles. As you can see from the mindmap (which took me 25 minutes), we start with the challenge (bluebox) and then move from concept to concept, in some cases spurred by certain creativity principles such as “blessing in disguise”, “periodical action” or “other dimension”. I think that with a few jumps it´s been relatively easy to move to unknown territory.  

apollo 13 virusI might also add, that the resulting concepts could be of some use to experts on the matter to reach other solutions not yet identified. To perform an analogy, I would refer to the Apollo 13 movie, when a set of NASA scientists have to gather together in order to find how to build an improvised CO2 filter with a number of elements available on the ship (see displayed items on the right). In the same way that these guys did eventually figure out the solution with a reasonable set of ingredients, disease experts might also find new solutions to a disease spreading problem with a pretty diverse set of concepts as the included in the mindmap.

I believe thinking creatively is not just about improving a dress design, a sculpture´s color or the garnish on a food dish (all very noble purposes and strong contributors to people´s happiness in different ways). I believe thinking creatively is mostly needed for serious business.


CC_SA By Ernesto Lluch Moreno. Photo: Armstrong State University.

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