Innovative Thinking – Spoiler Alert! – Blog 103



If you don’t want to know how the book ends,  skip thus blog.

The story describes the frustration of a young boy participating in a school wide competition for the furthest flying paper airplane. and how he was being partnered with a classmate who has autism.

The boy continually pushed his partner for ideas, designs, trail tests of the models, but the autistic boy just didn’t interact.  The boy becomes more and more frustrated and angry as they approach the deadline for the flight contest.

As the boy stood in line in the school’s gymnasium watching all of the other teams flying their most innovative designs, he noticed the autistic boy was only holding one flat sheet of paper.  No design, no creativity, no way to win.  The boy became really angry and decided to fly his own plane and leave the autistic partner behind.  The line moved forward the boy became increasing more confident he made the right decision to leave the other boy on his own.

When it came time for the boy to fly his design.  He stepped up to the flight line and threw his best shot.  The plane flew.  It flew well.  It didn’t win.  The boy lost but felt he at least had a shot at the contest.

The autistic boy was last to fly his design.  He stepped up to the flight line with his single flat sheet of paper, looked around, and balled the paper into a tight ball.  He took a deep breath and threw the paper ball overhand as hard as he could.The ball bounced off the wall on the other side of the gym.  The autistic boy won the competition.  Why?

Because he followed the rules.  The same rules I provide above.  The rules never said it had to look like an airplane.  It only said, “Use one sheet of paper, 3 minutes to discuss the design, and 5 minutes to build it.”

So, why didn’t you think of that?  You didn’t think of that again, because of conditioning.  There are dozens of blocks that prevent us from thinking creatively.


  1. Believing you aren’t creative
  2. Making assumptions
  3. Making up rules (blocks) that don’t exist
  4. Following the rules too strictly
  5. Being too serious
  6. Peer pressure
  7. Avoiding risks or afraid of being wrong
  8. Always staying with your routines / habits / comfort zone
  9. Thinking there is only one solution
  10. Making judgments too quickly

Now, add your own!

  1. ____________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________
  4. ____________________________________________
  5. ____________________________________________

Do you see the pattern in the book yet?  Break out of your conditioning and think differently.


“Imagination rules the world”

– Napoleon Bonaparte


Lon Safko
Serial Innovator, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Innovative Thinking


Tags: innovative thinking, creative, creative thinking, Innovation, critical thinking definition, innovation definition, critical thinking skills, creative process

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