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The cutting edge field was construction. Today we look at it as being boring. It was a time before steel and iron, the age of the birth of telegraphy.

Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier

They pitched their idea of a tower to Gustave Eiffel, using a sketch of the tower. He turned it down because it didn’t feel like a useful project. It was just a tall building.

The pitch is as important as the end result.

They took their feedback, and used it to move it forward.

All ideas are made of other ideas

If you are working in a project and feel stuck, it means you forgot this. There is a notion, an inspiration, a causality. The thing we are working can be broken down to pieces and rearranged it in a different way.

Eiffel had built similar projects as the Eiffel Tower, project that were taken down later because their usefulness was over.

There is also a tradition of building towers for the world fair:

  • Space needle in Seatle
  • Torre Vasco da Gama in Lisbon

Arches are an example of a pattern seen in architecture since early days.

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Study the history of the problems you are working on and find new ideas for solving them.


Great Ideas Often Look Weird

The only reason for the Eiffel Tower to move forward, was because he put its own equity and reputation behind the project. He faced opposition from 300 of his peers, accusing the project of being a monstrosity. Progress is sometimes ugly at first.

A bad idea is different from a weird idea. We need to learn the difference and keep the weird ones in a different place, because it may be useful in the future. Keep asking questions about it, probe deeper. That’s where progress comes from.

Another way to frame this is to understand that all masterpieces start as experiments.

Our minds are naturally creative

Create is a verb. It’s an activity. It’s not something that happens on its own, by an epiphany.


We don’t care about the difference between thinking and creative thinking.

Most people would rather die than thinking, in fact many of them do.

— Bertrand Russel

Creativity is unavoidable when we are suitably motivated by a hard problem. The trick is to know how to find our ‘suitable motivation’ to tackle the problem.

  • Creativity is a kind of work
  • Escape false constraints
  • Journals and self-respect

Eliminate false constraints

The false constraint is the box, in the phrase “think outside the box”. We sometimes invent constraints. We should make a list of all the constraints that we believe exist.

  • Idea killers “we tried that before”
  • Fatal criticism of young ideas
  • Groupthink vs. 1-on-1 pitches


avatar Bruno Amaral
Bruno Amaral

I am a Digital Strategist, divided between tech and creativity, working for the Lisbon Collective and teaching Public Relations at the …