Ever since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead debuted in 1968, there have been standards for what zombies can and cannot do. For nearly 40 years, everybody who knew anything about zombies learned it from Romero. Until Danny Boyle came along in 2007 with 28 Days Later. In this genre cracking film, Boyle changed just one thing about the zombies. He made them capable of running!
If that seems insignificant, watch Night of the Living Dead (or any of it’s sequels or knock-offs), then watch 28 Days Later. How much more scary is a running zombie?
It’s amazing how often we can make an enormous difference by changing one element of common thinking. Before 28 Days, everyone was content to have zombies that wandered haphazardly around yet still somehow managed to catch and kill most of the sentient humans in their path. Now that image will no longer be acceptable. Zombies need to run!
What’s true for zombies is true for many of the things that we assume are immutable facts about our environment. If you look closely at a problem, you may find that changing one element makes a radical difference. Finding that one element is what makes some of us more creative than others. Cultivate the ability to recognize the element that should change and people will constantly seek your counsel. Start by recognizing that there is more than one answer. Boyle could have given his zombies the ability to communicate, or made them cunning. Heck, it’s sci-fi. He could have made them fly.
Often the change isn’t as important as the fact that you change something.