Monday, 5 January 2015

Elgar's owls

If you have a few moments do an Internet search and listen to "Owls: An Epitaph", a short piece for chamber choir by Edward Elgar.

It is a surprising piece; within a short space of time Elgar experiments with some very dissonant, other worldly harmonies and some halting, oddly unsettling rhythms.

By writing the piece Elgar disproves the most common of excuses given for not trying out new ideas and approaches: that it will take too long and use too many resources.

The next time you want to experiment with something new assume you can do it within a short space of time and with the minimum of resources: if you want to try out a new way of receiving customers do it for a couple of hours only and within just one or two areas; if you are thinking of creating a new form or questionnaire quickly brainstorm some key questions, order them into a list and try them out on a small number of volunteers; if you want to test the potential of a new on-line process use a simple and quickly drawn storyboard to explain it to a few people and facilitate their feedback.

If you assume that trying out new ideas will take less rather than more time and resources you will likely be pleasantly surprised by how much you can achieve and learn (and how innovative your ideas turn out to be).


  1. Excellent parallel - I sometimes set myself time constraints for things for exactly this reason Charles.

  2. Thanks for the comment Peter Cook. Yes, we sometimes fall at the first hurdle by assuming that creative thinking has to be a long and complex pursuit which will take time.


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