Let it Fly


This airplane was a Big-Brained Superhero reward that got its original wings and tail mangled and, consequently, ended up in the project pile. It’s now on its fifth or sixth set of prototype wings/tail thanks to the singular interest of one young BBS, who, every time he walks through the club door, heads straight to the plane and keeps trying new design combinations until he has to go home. Once it flies again, it’s his to keep, but that seems to be only part of his motivation.

We’d love it if the process of getting Big Brains independently, deeply involved in relatively complex projects were as simple as defining objectives and supplying materials and rewards. But Big Brains just don’t work that way. In fact, for a very long time, this particular Big Brain had been obsessing over finding a way to earn an iPod. His single-minded devotion to the subject gave us a whole new appreciation for his Persistence superpower. However, it seems that finally feeling secure that he has a way to achieve his iPod goal has given him the freedom to passionately pursue other, more remote, interests. Flights of fancy first—all else can wait.

We spend quite a bit of time in The BBSC trying to figure out how to create this exact scenario—a Brain relentlessly exercising all of its superpowers for a creative purpose. And while we are still at the stage in which we just feel lucky when it happens, here are some of the things we know we need to have in order to make it possible:

  1. An environment that feels reliable and secure—Big Brains must know that they have the power to get all of their basic needs, perceived or otherwise, met. This sounds simple, but the standards for physical and emotional security seem to vary pretty dramatically from Big Brain to Big Brain, so meeting all of them sometimes feels like an impossibility. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve in this area, but we’ve got the basics (food, meaningful boundaries and expectations, laughter, etc) down well enough to satisfy a reasonable number of BBSes to varying degrees. We have a dream that, one day, we’ll be able to design for the toughest Brain out there, meet all of our goals and objectives, and bring everyone else along for the ride. Still working on it.
  2. All kinds of weird stuff lying around—While our Big Brains definitely need their comfort zones, in order to create, they also need inspiration and opportunities to get out of those comfort zones. We have yet to find a better way to provide that inspiration and opportunity than through stuff. Preferably weird stuff that they don’t see everyday. That can be broken. And maybe put back together.
  3. Ways to connect the dots—Internet, books, tools, humans. Our Big Brains need to have ways to learn what they don’t already know and colleagues to bounce ideas off of. For general purposes, we probably use our tiny book library more than our Internet, but that may be because our wireless is flaky and our devices are fragile. For technology purposes, we tend to use our devices. Regardless, just having a resource collection creates possibility.
  4. Magic—Call it Dark Matter, the Force, whatever. This is the placeholder for all of the needs we have yet to specifically identify but have seen impressions of. At the moment, there’s a bit more of this than we’d care to admit.

Regardless of where we are relative to where we want to be when it comes to providing all the things a Big-Brained Superhero needs, there’s one thing we’re pretty sure of: If we can make it possible, our Big-Brained Superheroes can make it happen.