Everyone’s looking for a formula for creativity.

They want to know the rules.

“Tell me what I have to do in order to be creative.”

But creativity is the opposite of formulaic thinking.

So there can’t be any rules.

You have to re-invent the wheel every time.

And sometimes two brilliant pieces of creativity are exactly the opposite of each other.

If it was just about learning rules that couldn’t be true.

So it isn’t just about learning rules.

It’s about knowing the rules, and sometimes doing the opposite.

And to do that it takes daring and brains.

Of course it doesn’t always make you popular.

Especially with the people who subscribe to the rules.

Take Alain Prost.

He was one of the best F1 drivers ever: World Champion four times.

Prost said his most creative race was the Brazilian Grand Prix.

It’s a very curvy track so everyone else opted for large spoilers that put extra downforce on their cars.

This would hold them tighter to the ground.

Giving their tyres better grip, and allowing them to corner faster.

Prost was the only driver who didn’t.

He reasoned that the extra downforce would make the car heavier.

This would make it faster on corners, but slower to accelerate, and slower on the straights.

Also faster cornering would wear out the tyres quicker.

So he didn’t use large spoilers for extra downforce.

This made his car lighter.

Which meant he went slower on the corners, but accelerated faster, and went faster on the straights.

Also slower cornering put less wear on his tyres, and he didn’t have to change them.

Unlike all the other drivers, who wore their tyres out faster and had to pull into the pits.

While they did that, Prost kept going.

He not only won, he was more than half a minute ahead of the car in second place.

Because he ignored everyone who said he was stupid for making his car corner slower than all the others.

Michael Schumacher had a completely different strategy.

He was maybe the best-ever F1 driver: World Champion seven times.

But he did almost exactly the opposite to Prost.

He said his most creative race was at Monaco.

This is a small, twisty, tight circuit.

Everyone takes on a full tank of fuel, in order to make fewer pit stops.

Schumacher decided to take on less fuel, and make an extra pit stop.

To everyone else this made no sense.

A pit stop could waste precious seconds.

But Schumacher figured that Monaco is the curviest race circuit in the world.

It’s all about the corners.

In which case, the car that corners faster wins.

If Schumacher put in less fuel, his car would be lighter.

If it was lighter, the tyres wouldn’t have to be pumped up to such high pressure.

And if the tyres were softer they’d have more area on the road.

They’d have more grip.

Even at the start, his tyres gripped while the other cars’ tyres spun.

He out-accelerated them.

At corners the other cars would try to keep up with him, and spin out.

Because his tyres had more grip.

Even with the extra pit stop, Schumacher won at Monaco.

He won by doing almost the exact opposite of what Prost did in Brazil.

But what they each had in common was creativity.

The willingness to look at what everyone else was doing, and do the opposite.

The willingness to learn the rules, but know when to break them.


Maybe that’s the formula for creativity.