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Personal Pattern Overlays:
A Mini-Interview With Ted Theodore the PPO Cube Inventor and Creator of the 'Personal Pattern Overlay' Creative Thinking Technique!

Introducing the Personal Pattern Overlay creative thinking technique and it's creator, Ted Theodore of YAKWORKS...

Intro: This 'interview' (more of a correspondence) with Ted Theodore, the Personal Pattern Overlay creator, took place by email during November 2004... Ted Theodore has been studying and teaching Creative Thinking and Innovation for over 20 years. He's developed what I insist on calling the Instant Creativity Cube... more commonly known at the PPO Cube - a tool which you can use to tap his Personal Pattern Overlay creative thinking technique any time, any place. I think Ted is far too modest about his knowledge and innovations... so I am delighted to share them with you here.

Ted Theodore: Wily, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your website. You are my kind of people. Thank you for all the effort you have put into this. I am sure there is a satisfaction knowing you have helped so many light bulbs come on! I have studied creativity in industry for the last 20 years. It is my passion. I have developed a concept of creative thinking called Personal Pattern Overlay and a tool to help people to adapt to this way of thinking called PPO Cubes. I would be most thankful if you would take a moment to look at my website and tell me what you think of this idea and the product. I realize your time is limited but ... from the response we are receiving, I think we have something you will find very interesting here! See it at www.ppocubes.com ...I think your readers will find it most interesting.

Wily Walnut: Thanks Ted! I find your Personal Pattern Overlay concept absolutely fascinating and think that you have developed a great tool to access inner genius. What's more, you've made it simple and accessible, and in my mind, that speaks highly of your own genius. Some of the other creativity methodologies out there are so long-winded and boring in their setup and descriptions that many people would be put off before they started.

Ted Theodore: You are exactly in tune with my thinking. I wanted something less DeBono and Kepner-Trago... something not for scientists, military strategists and mathematicians but more for the "everyman" who needs to solve problems more creatively. My only fear is that it is so simple that people may think it is a child's toy. The power is not in the cube...it is the user's life experiences and knowledge and THAT is real power.

Wily: How did you come up with the term Personal Pattern Overlay?

Ted: I guess the basic concept began to come to me in 1976 while working at textile mill as an industrial engineer. In looking for cost reductions, I looked for areas of excessive costs and found that we were spending alot of money on material handling. I got with accounting and received breakdowns on where expenses came from. I noticed that forklift repair was way over budget month after month. I went to the forklift driver who was a big burly african american gentleman and asked him what was the expenses for. He showed me the hoses  that pumped hydraulic fluid and raised and lowered the front forks. When they moved large heavy bales of cotton or fabric, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the hoses would reach their max load and blow. The rubber hose lines lasted 3-5 days. That meant downtime for the forklift truck, ruined materials with hydraulic fluid and costly hose replacement. By showing interest in his problems we became friends. About a week later, he stopped me and told me his brother was a pilot and he had gone flying with him over the weekend. He said he saw something really neat on the plane. His brother had lifted the cowling and shown him the engine and, there on the engine were silver braided metal flexible hoses. He asked about them and his brother told him those were called Aeroquip hoses. they were designed for high heat, high load aircraft applications because they were dependable, strong and would last forever! He asked me about the idea of getting some of those hoses to try on his forklift. Forgive me for allowing this story to grow so long but... those were the last hoses we bought for those forklifts during the next three years I worked for that company. I have the funny feeling their is a forklift grave yard somewhere with those beat up old forklifts rusting away with aeroquip hoses that still would perform perfectly! And it came from an employee without a high school education who took the time to think about relationships between his personal life experiences and what he did for a living.

That is where it began. Since then, as an Industrial Engineer, a Cost Engineer, a Purchasing Manager, a Materials Manager and as a consultant, in the textile industry, in the automotive industry and other fields I consulted in, I have seen this same way ideas spring to life. People bridging the gap between their personal life and their work. Making connections. AND I must confess, I truly love it when it comes from the hourly employees and not the managers! We American businessmen tend to hire hands and backs for grunt work and let the managers use their brains.... and when you do that, you get just that. When you take advantage of the brains tied to those hands and backs, that is where you get the real value and ...it doesn't cost you a penny more!

Wily: So, Ted, help me get clear on this. Would you clarify what PERSONAL PATTERN OVERLAY means to you exactly? Does it mean overlaying the habitual patterns of creative thinking (thinking 'in the box' as you put it)? Applying or overlaying the thinking or ideas from one area of your life to another distinctly different area?

Ted: The term is best explained as: Taking your own (Personal) knowledge and life experiences (patterns) and laying them  on top (Overlay) of the problems you have to see how they connect. These connections are incredible... I see them as areas of knowledge like geodesic domes. When you lay them on top of each other, you see identical points where they connect. You can see these connections points in sports  for example...in early stages of children learning to play soccer, they see every kick and every pass moving forward to the goal. As they advance in learning, they see in order to move forward, sometimes you have to move laterally and even pass backwards to be able to reach the goal. The same connections are seen in hockey, in lacrosse, in football and ...on the battlefield in military strategy.

Wily: You've invented this great creative thinking tool, the PPO Cube (see my article on the PPO Cube) so that everyday, "ordinary" people can exploit the Personal Pattern Overlay technique whenever they want to get sizzling ideas and insights. I really like the idea of having a little carry-round tool that you can unobtrusively use to spark your brain along new lines of thought. In some ways it is a modernization of scyrers and fortune tellers who would access their subconscious minds by throwing runes or consulting I-Ching yarrow sticks... only you've removed the mysticism but kept the magic, and put fate in the users hands through a tool that will keep the brain spinning creative future possibilities that we can then choose from.

Ted: Exactly. If you look at tarot cards or fortunes or horoscopes, you see much of the same effect. It is not the reading...it is how the person takes the reading and twists it to fit their situation to help them decide what is the right steps moving forward to find pleasure, happiness or to avoid pain and sorrow. It triggers the ideas from which their "creative imagination" fills in the blanks. I could go to 10 different tarot card readings, get ten different messages and take ten different views of next steps that could all be good as it allowed my sub-concious to have confidence that a "higher power" was dropping me a hint. I don't mean to appear sacreligious or make fun of those who believe in tarot or horoscopes because I understand the power of believing and have seen what it can do.

Wily: In some of my website articles, I speak about using success templates -- applying the template of success from one field of endeavour to another - a prime example being Arnold Schwarzenegger who achieved success as a bodybuilder and then applied the same patterns of thinking and action to the fields of business, movie making and politics. However, your PPO principal -- and I'm still trying to get my head around it -- is about finding new relationships between completely diverse areas or ideas -- and I love that, because that really throws up new stuff!

Ted: Exactly, I appreciate so much your understanding at high level. The randomness adds the X factor as every roll generates so many more possibilities. The old random "trigger chart" system of creativity used a sheet of paper with 100 words...the user would close his eyes and put his finger on a word and look for a relationship between that word and the problem he wished to solve. The words were like : Door, skeleton, key, apple, tree. With PPO, the user sees so many more relationships because it is things he knows a lot about already... it's personal. SO MUCH more powerful in finding analogies. Instead of tree...it's automobiles...which can lead to engine, transmission, steering, tires, braking, oil flow and pump, a/c, heat, hydraulics, electricals, interiors, bodywork, ignition, carburation, exhaust, water cooling, safety, fuel systems, racing, auto restoration, etc., etc.

Wily:  Ted, I think the PPO Cube is a wonderful creative thinking tool- so simple and useable ...and so very useful! Tell me, when did you invent the Personal Pattern Overlay concept and PPO Cubes, and what are your hopes for the future?

Ted: I first offered this cube to the public 15 years ago but I decided it was before it's time and backed away. With the advent of newer technologies and people becoming more interested in developing their minds, I felt now is the time. I am getting ready to release a more economical cube to help get this product in front of more people and help grow the understanding. Manufacturing the solid cubes is very difficult and expensive...hand molding I am doing now is time consuming and costly. I am able to produce the foam cubes at a lower cost and can offer the product at a price that anyone can swallow. Cost  to benefit ratio is defintitely there!  I am not trying to "get rich quick" with this product so I decided to make it more available to the public in hopes that the word would spread more rapidly. If you have looked at my website, you can see that the cube is not essential to using the concept.

As you may have realized... this is my passion. I am so thankful that life has placed me in a position where I can afford to invest and pursue this project realizing it may never pay back in dollars but it will pay back in success stories for many years to come. Today is my 47th birthday and I am thankful to be where I am, married to my best friend and the love of my life, and to love what I do for a living. Not everyone is so fortunate.

Your kind words and understanding re-news my faith and confidence in continuing this effort. I mean that sincerely. It is not a cure for cancer but it may be a source that people can use to develop new ideas that will help shape our future. And if it helps the average Joe find a way to get out of debt or a soccer mom to figure a way of balancing her time or a young person find a way to get along through some tough times, that makes it worthwhile for me to continue pushing this concept out there.

Wily: Thank you for sharing it with us, Ted. I think it is pure dynamite for the brain!

Conclusion: Do go see Ted's websitefor more information on the amazing Personal Pattern Overlay concept and PPO Cubes, or contact Ted at the following address:

Ted Theodore,
YAKWORKS,
403 Hunters Hill Rd,
Simpsonville,
SC 29680,
USA

Do you start to see the magic of the Personal Pattern Overlay technique and see how the Instant Creativity PPO Cubes will work for you? Go to Ted's website on PPO Cubes for further info or see my PPO Cubes article


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