Where Do You Go to Look for Inspiration?


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Where do you go to look for inspiration?

Slowing down to find inspiration

Slow down & smell the roses

Where do you go to look for inspiration?

It's easy to get stuck in a rut.

You spend every waking hour thinking of your restaurant, your food.

So you end up basing your ideas on the assumption that this is what everybody else is doing. You must be doing it right if you're copying your peers!

The trouble with just following along with what everybody else is doing is that you end up with insipid, mediocre and predictable sameness.

When you go down this path, it's hard to stand out from the crowd. So you get lost in a sea of blandness.

When we choose to go out for a meal, we're not just looking for a feed. We want an experience. Otherwise, we may as well just head down to Maccas. Sure, there's a time and place for Maccas and you know exactly what you're going to get; fast, convenient food.

You would never rate going to McDonald's as a memorable occasion unless it was for a 5-year old's birthday party.

If we make the assumption that most people have only so much disposable income to spend, then they're not going to be eating out every night.

So you need to offer a unique experience.

So What's Your Big Idea?

When you look at things with the same old eyes, you tend to come up with tired ideas.

So it's time to take a fresh look at your thoughts and ideas.

You may not know this, but I used to live in Adelaide.

There was nothing more enjoyable than spending a weekend heading up to Wineries in the Barossa.

Throughout the Barossa area there are approximately 160 wineries and more than 80 cellar doors.

The roads around the Barossa are well maintained and in good condition, extending over 40 kilometres from Angaston to Gawler. The 3 main towns are Nuriootpa, Tanunda and Lyndoch.

I would have driven from Grants Burge along Krondorf Rd, Tanunda to Bethany Wines and on to Henschke Cellars, Keyneton.

Bethany Wines Barossa

Seppeltsfield Road is lined with palm trees and boasts more than 18 wineries.

It's a pretty drive with the rows of  manicured vines standing at attention and marching up the hills, palm trees guarding the wineries.

I just took the view for granted because that's what I expected travelling through the vineyards.

After each trip, the scenery was just becoming a blur. Going from one winery to the next, they just all started looking similar.

Our plan was to get to as many wineries as possible as we always had a designated driver.

The vineyards and cellar doors in Barossa offered some of the best fresh and local wine and food in South Australia.

I can't say there was anything spectacular driving between the wineries.

That was until I rode my push bike from Wilpena Pound to Adelaide with a group of cyclists. A journey of 850km that took 8 days.

Peddling through the Barossa on my bike at 20km rather than cruising in the car at 60km gave me an entirely different perspective.

Those perfect, well ordered vine rows now looked more rugged and gnarly.

gnarly Vindyards

Those vines snaked up the hills in ragged lines.

It was like looking at a painting with all the flaws exposed.

Just by slowing down I could now appreciate all the hard work involved in taming this unpredictable land. The irregular lines of the vines dodged around clumps of rocks poking out from the hill side.

Each Vine Was Unique in its Own Way

When I was driving through the vineyards, I missed the subtle arrangement of the vine.

So if you're running a restaurant like I was driving my car then you could be missing out on seeing new opportunities.

You may not have the time or energy to ride through Barossa on a push bike, so what can you do to get a change of view?

Take time out. Slow down and get a different perspective on how things work.

For starters, you could go and visit other restaurants. Having said that though, you are still going to be immersed in the same old ideas. You might catch a lucky break and find a gap in the market, but you're probably only going see more of the same.

You will be stuck with tunnel vision - just seeing the same stuff you always see.

It's Time to Think Outside of the Box

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative by Roger Von Oech.

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

This is one of my favourite books. I have read it about 13 times over the last 20 years.

Roger von Oech had this to say about "mental locks":

He calls these attitudes "mental locks". There are 10 mental locks which can be especially hazardous to our thinking:

  1. The right answer – Much of our educational system has taught us to look for the one right answer. This approach is fine for some situations, but many of us have a tendency to stop looking for alternative right answers after the first one has been found. This is unfortunate because often it’s the second or third, or tenth right answer that is what we need to solve a problem in an innovative way...
  2. That's not logical! – Logic is an important creative thinking tool. Its use is especially appropriate in the practical phase of the creative process when you are evaluating ideas and preparing them for action. When you are searching for ideas, however, excessive logical thinking can short-circuit your creative process...
  3. Follow the rules – Creative thinking is not only constructive, but it is also destructive. You often have to break out of one pattern to discover another one. So be responsive to change and be flexible with the rules. Remember, breaking the rules won't necessarily lead to creative ideas, but it's one avenue...
  4. Be practical – This world has been built by practical people who knew how to get into a germinal frame of mind, listen to their imaginations, and build on the ideas they found there...
  5. Avoid ambiguity – Most of us have heard to “avoid ambiguity” because of the communication problems it can cause. This is an especially good idea in practical situations where the consequences of such misunderstandings would be serious...
  6. To err is wrong – There are places where errors are inappropriate, but the germinal phase of the creative process isn’t one of them. Errors are a sign that you are diverging from the well-traveled path...
  7. Play is frivolous – If necessity is the mother of invention, play is the father. Use it to fertilize your thinking...
  8. That's not my area – Specialization is a fact of life. To function in this world, you have to narrow your focus and limit your field of view. When you’re trying to generate new ideas, however, such information-handling attitudes can limit you...
  9. Don't be foolish – Some people are so closely married to their ideas that they put them up on a pedestal. It’s difficult, however, to be objective if you have a lot of ego tied up in your idea...
  10. I’m not creative!– The world of thought and action overlap. What you think has a way of becoming true...

It’s Now Time to Get a Different Perspective

So why not go out and visit other industries to see what they are doing?

You will be surprised at what you find. The real trick is observing what they are doing & seeing how you can applying chosen bits to your restaurant.

  • Go and visit a garden...
  • Take a trip to an art gallery...
  • Go & experience a sporting event with all the theatre...
  • Mentor a small business...
  • Watch a florist turn flowers into a sculpture...
  • Visit a top real estate agent conducting an auction...
  • Watch A potter or glass blower create a masterpiece...
  • Visit a farm and learn how everything works together...
  • Spend day with a hairdresser...
  • See how an architect designs a building...

With an open mind, you'll discover more possibilities for creating a unique experience at your restaurant.

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