The Hare causes an upset
A free eBook by: Dr Ken Hudson
Author, The Idea Generator & The Idea Accelerator.
Founder, The Speed Thinking Zone
A quick note on Dr Ken Hudson:
Dr Ken Hudson is the best selling author of The Idea
Generator and The Idea Accelerator (Allen & Unwin,
2007, 2008). Collectively these books have been
published in Australia, France, UK, Taiwan, Italy, Brazil
and distributed in the US and India.
He is the founder and chief starter of The Speed
Thinking Zone. His vision is to help the young people
of the world to improve their life—everyday.
Dr Hudson was a former marketing director at
American Express and has a B.Bus (UTS), MBA (UNE)
and a PHD (UWS) in Organisational Creativity.
He can be contacted by visiting:
Although this eBook remains the intellectual property
of Dr Ken Hudson, he is happy for you to pass it on to
anyone who might benefit from learning a new way to
think better, faster.
Any feedback please send him an email:
Table of Contents
What is Speed Thinking? 8
The Insight Behind Speed Thinking 10
The three components of the
Speed Thinking System 11
The Magical Speed Thinking Formula 12
The 4-Step Speed Thinking Cycle 15
Speed Links 20
Why Speed Thinking Works 22
Once upon a time there was a Greek story-teller who lived
over 2500 years ago named Aesop. He created some of the
most well-known fables including the Tortoise and the Hare.
This is the story of a rather too-confident hare that challenged
a slow-moving tortoise to a race. Half-way through, the hare
decided to have a nap and when he awoke he realised that it
was all too late, the tortoise had won the race.
The moral of the fable? ‘Slow and steady’ wins the race.
This has become one of the most important lessons we all
learn as a child. But does it still hold?
The proposition in this book is that we need to invent a new
21st century version of this fable in which there is a different
The Hare wins!
Slow and steady gets left behind!
Being able to think, act and learn quickly is the new way to win.
In Aesop’ time there was NO:
• Broadband Internet
• Google or
All these factors have contributed to a fast-changing
environment. Everything is accelerating. Speed begets speed.
Most of us are caught in a dilemma of having less and less
time yet we are expected to do more and more!
Some 150 years ago a man called Charles Darwin wrote a
book which was to change our world. It was called ‘On the
Origin of Species’ and he suggested that through a process
of natural selection organisms that were best suited to their
environment would have a better chance of survival than
those who were not.
In essence, if the environment changes than you must adapt
To paraphrase Darwin it is not ‘Survival of the Fittest’ but rather:
‘Survival of the Fastest’
The purpose of this eBook is to enable you to thrive in this
I have called this new way of adapting, Speed Thinking.
This system will enable you to create ideas, solve solutions
and make decisions faster and better than you ever imagined.
By doing so you will become more productive, efficient and
If you are a student, Speed Thinking can help you to improve
your study and exam results.
It will stop you procrastinating.
Not only will you be able to improve your results but you will
feel better (e.g. research by Emily Pronin, 2008, et al suggest
that thinking quickly can give you an immediate lift in mood).
What is Speed Thinking?
Speed Thinking is a generative thinking system which enables
any individual or team to deliberately and consciously accelerate
the pace at which they normally think and act.
The important points of this definition are:
- Speed Thinking aims to generate movement, energy, ideas,
solutions or a decision.
- It complements but does not replace traditional thinking
- Speed Thinking can be used by an individual, with a partner or
- It can be applied at work, home, school or university.
The emphasis with Speed Thinking is on varying the pace at
which you think, much like a light switch where you can switch
easily between light and dark--in a similar way you can alternate
between traditional thinking or speed thinking depending on the
time available and the problem at hand.
Speed Thinking as a Digital Camera
Remember only a few short years ago when you had a film
camera? You carefully studied your intended shot and then took
your picture. But you did not take many because you then had
to have your pictures processed some time later. This was both
costly and time-consuming. To take reasonable pictures took
time and effort.
With a digital camera you can take as many pictures, as quickly
as you wish. After each picture, you can immediately evaluate
it. There is no real cost other than a few seconds of your time.
Because of this it also means that you can take many shots of
the same scene until you get just the right one. If you are not
happy with your picture then you keep snapping away. With
only a few lessons, the digital camera can be used by kids
right through to the elderly. The entire process is fast, fun and
In many ways the digital camera represents Speed Thinking
while the film camera is traditional thinking. With Speed Thinking
there is no right or wrong approach, if in a few minutes your
solution does not lead anywhere then you can start again. All you
have lost is two minutes.
The Insight behind Speed Thinking
After I completed a PHD in organisational creativity I
established a creative thinking and innovation consulting
business which I ran for five years.
It was while working with managers from many
international organisations that I noticed that they often
produced outstanding work when I encouraged them to
accelerate the pace at which they were working by limiting
the time they had available.
Based on this insight I started reducing the amount of
time I gave managers to solve a problem, for example.
There was little difference in output when I set a problem
time limit at three hours rather than four. Even setting the
time limit at two hours didn’t appear to impact the results.
If anything, participants became more focused, energised
Through a process of trial and error over literally hundreds
of workshops I designed a totally new thinking system
based on speed.
The three components of the Speed
1. The magic formula: Two minutes and nine possibilities
2. A 4-Step Cycle (Start, Evaluate, Build, Action) and
3. A new Speed Thinking Tool called Speed Links
Speed Thinking is a skill that can be learned by anyone and
with practice improved. Whilst some may be faster than
others, I have not found a person who cannot improve their
ability to think quicker and better given some practice and
Speed Thinking offers the best of both worlds – it adds
‘structure’ to your intuition and ‘speed’ to your analysis.
The process and tools of Speed Thinking can be learned by
anyone, of any age and used effectively almost immediately.
The emphasis with Speed Thinking is not to ‘think without
thinking’ (the sub-heading from Malcolm Gladwell’s successful
book called Blink, 2005) but not to over-think.
1: The Magical Speed Thinking Formula
After I completed my doctorate in Organisational Creativity, I
established a creative thinking and innovation business and
worked with many leading business leaders to help them create
new products, solve problems or develop new revenue growth
I noticed that when I paradoxically gave them less time than they
were used to or expected they often produced amazing work. It
was more original, innovative and they felt more energised.
This seemed counter-intuitive. How could people produce better
results in shorter time?
Over a number of years and literally hundreds of workshops I
kept reducing the amount of time to complete an exercise and lo
and behold I kept achieving outstanding results. In these short
bursts of activity, managers seemed more creative, energised
Based on these observations, I kept asking myself, what is the
shortest amount of time that I could give an individual or group
to start to solve a problem?
My finding will surprise you.
My answer? Two minutes!
It was the shortest amount of time that I could imagine and
participants in my workshops seemed to be able unlock their
own two minutes of magic at will.
But there was another piece to this puzzle. After a while people
became used to the shorter time and would then revert back
to a slower, more comfortable, business-as-usual thinking
pace. In order to overcome this I added a target of at least nine
possibilities that participants had to try and achieve.
The number nine emerged because it was the highest number
that anyone could achieve in two minutes. I thought that if one
person could reach that figure then perhaps others could as
well. This created a ‘stretch’ target that encouraged people not to
filter (more on this later).
How many ideas did you come up with--was a popular question
in my workshops. Whatever the result (the average was 5-7
responses) became a benchmark that participants tried to beat
the next time they were Speed Thinking. This goal of trying to
improve your own results in turn, created more energy, fun and
importantly less critical analysis.
The other advantage of having a target of nine possibilities is
that it encourages you to consider an array of left-field solutions.
Most people are happy to create perhaps three ideas but when
they are faced with the challenge of nine they are forced to use
their imagination and offer up solutions that they might have
initially considered unworkable. Instead these new thoughts
might just be the clue to solving a problem in an original way.
The basic mechanism of Speed Thinking is the combination of
two minutes and nine possibilities. These two factors work in
a synergistic way to enable you to accelerate your thinking. It
provides a structure in which you can create, solve or decide at
an express pace.
Sports people often call this mindset, being ‘in the zone’ or the
ideal performance state. It is the state of mind and body in which
we perform at, or near to, our best. It is easily recognised in
sport but is relevant to all areas of performance such as study,
business and the performing arts. Speed Thinking enables you
to enter your own high-performance zone at will, whenever you
need to, either at work, home or study.
The 4-Step Speed Thinking Cycle:
Step One: Start
With Speed Thinking the emphasis is on taking the first step—to
ignore all the reasons not to act and just start. But this simple
step is often the hardest. To start any new project can be both
motivating and energising. It is also the first sign of innovation.
Without someone starting something, somewhere, nothing ever
happens and nothing ever changes.
The aim with Speed Thinking is to just get going as quickly
as you can. There is no right or wrong place to start. The only
mistake a person can make is not starting. You can keep
worrying, analysing or procrastinating or you can start.
The important point at this stage is to continuously remind
yourself that your aim is to create ideally nine different
possibilities or initial thoughts. In the following stages these will
be evaluated, built and then actioned.
Step Two: Evaluate
After a range of potential solutions have been created the next
step is to do a quick evaluation. The aim here is not to conduct a
protracted and agonizing debate over the relative merits of each
possibility but to simply evaluate these in two minutes.
People are often amazed at how quickly they can evaluate when
they are asked to do so in a short period of time. In a blur of
activity they can form a coherent rationale for evaluating certain
options high or low in literally minutes. I suspect that they can
do this because they are using both their left and right side of
their brain. Most people only use left brain considerations (e.g.
will it save money) which can lead to procrastination as various
financial analysis go back and forth.
One powerful way of evaluating is to use what i have called
the passion meter. In the evaluation process, after you have
created a number of options ask yourself: how passionate do I
feel about option one on a scale of 1-10? One being indifferent,
ten being-you love the idea or solution. Then repeat for option
two, three etc. It is important just to score the ideas and not to
rank these at this stage. In two minutes you will have sorted the
options according to passion. Go with the highest scoring ones.
Step Three: Build
The third step in the Speed Thinking Cycle is to focus in on the
highest evaluated option and then to try and make this initial
idea or solution, nine times better.
Ideas or solutions are never born perfect. They need to be built
into bigger concepts. The ‘Start’ step gets your initial thoughts
out. The ‘Evaluate’ step then takes these thoughts and tries to
identify the ones with the most potential. The Build step tries to
realise this potential by transforming a raw idea into a workable
As with all the steps, if the initial highest evaluated option does
not work out as expected, you can go back in the cycle to the
previous step and select another thought and work for two
minutes on this.
This step is most concerned with enhancing an initial thought
and can be completed by an individual or with a partner. You
might both do the start step individually and then complete the
evaluate, build and action steps together. This process combines
the magic of the individual with the strengths of working with
The continued emphasis on speed maintains the sense of
momentum and encourages participants to be more open
to consider new ideas rather than slipping into a critical,
Step Four: Action
The 4-step Speed Thinking Cycle is concerned with making
something happen. It is not a clever, legal argument aimed at
trapping an opponent nor is it concerned with following the rules
The primary aim is to create a breakthrough idea, solve a
problem or make a quality decision quickly. It makes sense
therefore for the final step to be action oriented.
This step is concerned with taking the workable concept or
decision and bringing it to life. This step completes the loop from
thought to action. It forces people to develop nine action steps
they can take to bring the decision or workable concept to the
The primary aim of this step is to transform a concept or
potential solution into a tangible action. It could be to develop a
prototype, build a business case, conduct some market research
or obtain some funding etc. The emphasis always is on action.
The third component of The Speed Thinking System is called
Speed Links. It is a tool which mirrors the magical formula of
nine responses in two minutes.
Speed Links can be used to solve problems, brainstorm new
ideas or solve problems. I have developed over 30 different uses
but no doubt there are many more. It has been tested in various
different situations across many different countries and it always
helps people to think better, faster.
The design of Speed Links consisting of nine outer thought
bubbles and nine inner ones creates a visual template which
encourages people to think in a non-linear, more imaginative
As opposed to other thinking tools (e.g. MindMapping) there is
an open connecting space in the middle of Speed Links which
encourages you to make deliberate and random connections
between your initial thoughts. With nine different pieces of
information you can literally develop thousands of different
Remember to write in brief notations. If you wanted to develop
a new kids product you can just write ‘kids’ and your brain will
‘chunk’ all the relevant associations.
Date: Name: Challenge:
IDEA #9 IDEA #2
IDEA #8 IDEA #3
IDEA #7 IDEA #4
IDEA #6 IDEA #5
If you are using Speed Links to Brainstorm ideas try and create nine
new ideas in two minutes and place these in the inner circles.
Then select a few at random and make the initial idea nine times
better (around the outside circle).
Now try and connect a few of the circles at random and see what
new ideas emerge.
Why Speed Thinking Works
1. It Provides an intense focus
We live in a short-attention span, multitask world. We all seem
to be forever trying to do a number of things at once. Speed
Thinking with it’s small time frame (i.e. two minutes) and
challenging target (i.e. nine possibilities) tends to focus the mind
wonderfully well on the specific task at hand. It is a paradox but
to work faster we need to concentrate on one thing at a time.
2. You do not limit yourself.
During my training programs on creative thinking I noticed that
one of the biggest barriers for people was their own internal
voice which constantly told them that they were not creative.
Speed Thinking provides a simple solution to your often self-
limiting internal voice. You are simply too busy to worry about
what your voice is saying. You are more consumed with meeting
the two minute challenge.
3. You do not worry about other
In a similar vein, one of the biggest barriers to continued high
performance is that we spend so much time worrying what
others think of us. Speed Thinking bypasses your anxieties
because you are too involved to worry about what they may
or may not be thinking. Without these self-imposed limitations
I have found that people are more original, authentic and can
think and act without these suffocating, self-imposed limitations.
Why Speed Thinking Works
4. Operate at the edge of your unconscious.
A reoccurring feature of Speed Thinking is how participants are
sometimes surprised by some of their initial thoughts. They
often say ‘I am not sure where this idea came from.’ Because
of the speed at which they are operating, they cannot use their
conscious mind nor logic or critical thinking. They have to rely
on something else which I believe, is their unconscious.
I believe that when we are Speed Thinking we operate at the
‘edge of our unconscious’. This is a dynamic space between
our conscious and our unconscious. We are increasingly aware
that our unconscious minds play a major, active role in our
5. Creates a safe space to play, collaborate
Speed Thinking works particularly well in a group setting
because it reduces internal filtering and external expectations,
and creates a safe space for participants to play, collaborate
and improvise. I have noticed that people are far more open
to a new idea or solution than in a normal, more formal setting
and feel better when they are Speed Thinking so there is
an explosion of energy in the room and a sense of jointly