A box of frogs

I had a meeting with a fellow trainer today to structure the new SatNav for Leaders course and during the meeting he said every time we got together it was like studying a box of frogs.

I’d never heard this phrase before and I immediately liked this image; although he just said “a box of frogs” it was apparent that the box had to be open. In that way the frogs could unexpectedly ju mp out in random directions (the ‘jump’ word was originally a typo but then I realised how appropriate the space was and so left it in) and surprise the observer. Eventually you could imagine the entire room being populated with escaped frogs looking for a home with the frantic humans chasing after them.

What he meant was that, no matter what we were discussing, I couldn’t help flying off on a tangent with tricky ideas that had a tenuous connection to the subject matter being discussed. His very use of the phrase ‘box of frogs’ had me mentally jumping all over the place; what a great name for a creative consultancy, I was already designing the logo in my head.

The other appealing thing about it was that it was funny. Put it in the context of a boardroom – so many pin stripe suited fat cats around a highly polished table and the young maverick hotshot comes in with his new vision for the company.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… the box of frogs!”

Picturing the ensuing mayhem has an irresistible comic appeal.

And the more I thought about it the better the image became because it goes several steps beyond the cliché’d ‘out of the box’ phrase. ‘Out of the box’ suggests just one idea, whereas a box of frogs suggests scores of ideas coming at you from all angles in unexpected ways which is a more accurate description of the creative process. Not only that, a really successful creative session is almost invariably a lot of fun; again, the image of ecstatic individuals unable to decide which tantalising frog to chase is perfectly apt.

It is no coincidence that I use comedy as the vehicle to demonstrate the creative process.

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