One summer morning in the early 1970s, Bill and Barbara Bowerman were fixing
waffles for breakfast. Bill, the head running coach at the University of Oregon, was
bemoaning the fact that his runners didn’t have track shoes that could grip the new
Having coached thirty-three Olympians, he was always on the lookout for better athletic gear. In the 1960s, he had co-launched a company to import light-weight
running shoes from Japan. He even had a lab in his house where he could experiment. Now, he was looking for a lighter, faster shoe, one without spikes, that could still grip the new running track.
At that moment, Barbara pulled a waffle off the hot waffle iron. Staring at the waffle. Bill suddenly made a connection. The grid pattern on the waffle might just create the perfect grip for the sole of a running shoe. He grabbed the waffle iron and ran to his lab. By the end of the day, he had prototyped the shoe that would earn him his first patent and launch his company to international fame: The Nike Waffle Trainer.
The story is a perfect example of what happens at the moment a creative idea is conceived. Coach Bowerman has been puzzling over his challenge for weeks when an unexpected connection at the breakfast table unlocked it. In an instant, the DNA of the waffle and the DNA of the running shoe combined in his mind to bring something entirely new into being.
Creativity is just that: ability to bring new and valuable things into being. You can
cultivate that ability.
Source: Nielsen, D. & Thurber, S. (2016). The Secret of the Highly Creative Thinker.
Amsterdam: BIS Publishers.