How to find a wonderful idea | OK Go

How to find a wonderful idea | OK Go


(Dominoes fall) (Toy car) (Ball rolls) (Music: “This Too Shall Pass”) (Singing) You know you can’t keep
letting it get you down, and you can’t keep dragging
that dead weight around. If there ain’t all that much to lug around better run like hell
when you hit the ground When the morning comes When the morning comes You can’t stop these kids from dancing, but why would you want to, especially when you’re
already getting yours? (Xylophone) (Singing) ‘Cause if your mind
don’t move and your knees don’t bend, well don’t go blaming the kids again. (Xylophone) (Singing) When the morning comes When the morning comes When the morning comes When the morning comes When the morning comes When the morning comes (Xylophone) (Singing) Let it go, this too shall pass Let it go, this too shall pass You know you can’t keep
letting it get you down, you can’t keep letting it get you down — this too shall pass If there ain’t
all that much to lug around, you can’t keep letting it get you down — this too shall pass When the morning comes — you can’t keep letting it get you down, no you can’t keep letting it When the morning comes — you can’t keep letting it get you down, no you can’t keep letting it When the morning comes — you can’t keep letting it get you down, no you can’t keep letting it When the morning comes — you can’t keep letting it get you down, no you can’t keep letting it When the morning comes (Paint guns fire) (Applause) Damian Kulash:
Thank you, thanks very much. We are OK Go, and we’ve been together
as a band since 1998. But in the last decade, we’ve become known as much
for the elaborate music videos, like the one we just saw, as for the songs they accompany. So we will play along with another
one of those in a few minutes, but in the meantime, we want to address this question
that we get asked all the time but we’ve really never come up
with an adequate answer for it, and that is, how do we
think of those ideas? The videos are not all
Rube Goldberg machines, by the way. Last year we did a dance in zero gravity, and once we set up an obstacle course out of thousands of musical
instruments in the desert, and then played them
by stunt driving a car through them. (Laughter) For one of the videos, we choreographed
hundreds of people with umbrellas in an abandoned parking lot outside Tokyo, and then filmed them from a drone
a half a mile in the air. So it’s all of these ideas
that people are curious about, and the reason we’ve had so much trouble
describing how we think of these ideas is that it doesn’t really feel
like we think of them at all. It feels like we find them. And by way of explanation — well, I have a compulsive habit. I play parallax and perspective games
with my eyes pretty much all the time, and it’s something I’ve been doing
since I was a teenager. And I think the big contributing
factor may have been that this is how I decorated
my high school bedroom. (Laughter) And being a teenager, what I did in there, of course,
was just talk on the phone for staggering amounts of time. So I was in this visual maelstrom just pretty much
usually sitting in one place, and I guess just
the overload in general — my brain kind of tried
to make sense of it, and I would — If I could move my head off
to one side a little bit, the edge of the desk
would line up just perfectly with that poster on the opposite wall; or if I put my thumb out, I could close first my left eye
and then my right, and my thumb would bounce back and forth between Jimi Hendrix’s
left eye and his right. (Laughter) It was not a conscious thing, of course, this is just kind of the equivalent
of doodling while you’re talking, and it’s still something
I do all the time. This is my wife, Kristin — (Applause) Yeah! Woo! And it’s not uncommon
that we are out at dinner, and in the middle of a great conversation
she’ll just stop mid-sentence, and when she stops is when I realize
that I’m the one who’s acting weird because I’m like bobbing and weaving. And what I’m trying to do
is get that ficus back there to stick out of her head like a ponytail. (Laughter) The point of telling you
all this is that — for me this is what it feels like
to have an idea. It’s like they’re made
of these disparate parts, these disparate chunks
sort of floating out there. And if you’re receptive
and you’re observant, and crucially, if you’re
in exactly the right place, you can get them to just line up. So if you get used to — if it’s your job
to think of ideas this way, they’ll start beckoning to you the way that Jimi’s eyes
beckoned from that poster, or the ficus beckons
from behind Kristin’s head. Writing music feels like that process
just over and over again, like you’ve got a bunch of sounds
or a groove or a chord progression and you’re just looking
for that thing on the other side, that little chunk over there,
that puzzle piece that clicks right in. And when it does click, it doesn’t feel like you
thought up that puzzle piece, it feels like you found it — like it was a set of relationships
that you unlocked. But with the videos in particular, we’re usually looking
for this specific feeling which is wonder. And there’s always a component
of surprise to wonder, so we’re not just looking for good ideas, we’re looking for good ideas
that surprise us in some way. And this causes something of a problem, because … the process that we all use to make stuff, it actually has a very strong bias
against surprising ideas. The process I’m talking about
is the one you all know — we all do it all the time. You think of an idea. You just sit and think
of your brilliant idea and then you come up with a plan for how you’re going to make
that idea happen. And then with that plan in mind, you go back and double-check
your original idea and maybe revise it, and then bouncing back and forth
between the idea and the plan, the plan and the idea, eventually you come up
with a truly great plan. And then once you have that,
and only then, do you go out and you execute. And this is like — this is sort of a flawless system in terms of maximizing your resources, because this — super cheap. Thinking usually costs very little, but this is really expensive
most of the time, so by the time you get there, you want to make sure
you’re super prepared and you can squeeze every last drop
out of what you’ve got. But there are problems with this, and math will help us
reveal the biggest one. Go back to that video
that we just showed you. That Rube Goldberg machine, it had about 130 interactions in it. That was 130 things that we had to have go
according to our plan. So let’s assume that we want
to make a new video now, similarly complex — 130 moving parts. If we’re really good planners
in that system, it seems like maybe
we could be good enough to get every part of that system
to be 90 percent reliable. 90 percent sounds good, right? Well, it’s not. It’s terrible actually.
The numbers say so. The chance of getting all 130 things
to not fail at the same time is .9 for 90 percent to the 130th power. So calculate that out and you get … (Ding) .000001, which is one ten-thousandth
of one percent, so your chance for success
is literally one in a million. (Whistle) (Laughter) I mean that’s not a gamble I want to take, so let’s ratchet up
that reliability to 99 percent. .99 to the 130th power is … (Ding) .27 — 27 percent. Significantly less daunting — like this might even be usable. But really think about that. How many parts of your lives
are 99 percent reliable? And could you really get 130 of them
all in one place at once? And if you really could, doesn’t it seem
like you deserve to succeed? Like that is — that thing is going to work, right? But no, it actually fails three times
more often than it succeeds. So the upshot of all this is that if your project
is pretty complex — like, you know,
every ambitious project is — if you’ve got a lot of moving parts, you’re basically constrained
to just reshuffling ideas that have already demonstrably
proven that they’re 100 percent reliable. So now go back to me sitting
with my thumb in the air trying to line up something surprising. If the only things I’m allowed
to consider in the first place are ideas that have already been done
over and over and over again, I am screwed. However, there are ways around this, because we all know that there are
tons of untried ideas still out there, and plenty of them will turn out
to be every bit as reliable as we need, it’s just that we don’t yet know
they are reliable when we are at this planning phase. So what we do is we try
to identify some place where there might just be
a ton of those untried ideas. We try to find a sandbox and then we gamble
a whole bunch of our resources on getting in that sandbox and playing. (Laughter) Because we have to trust
that it’s the process in the sandbox that will reveal to us
which ideas are not only surprising, but surprisingly reliable. So some of the sandboxes
that we’ve started videos with. Let’s play with optical illusions. Let’s try to dance on moving surfaces. Let’s try to make toast
with a laser cutter. Or let’s do something in one
of those zero-gravity airplanes. But then instead
of actually trying to sit there and think out what that something is, we spent a full third of our budget
getting in an actual Vomit Comet and bouncing off the walls for a week. So this may seem to you like testing, but it really isn’t, because at this point
we don’t yet know what our idea is, we don’t have a plan to be testing. So we’re just — we’re just playing, we’re just trying everything
we can think of, because we need to get this idea space
filled up with a chaos like the one in my high school bedroom. Because then, if we can
do the bob and weave thing, if we can put our thumbs up
and get just a few things to line up — (Ding) chances are no one else has ever made
those same things line up before. And when we’re done with that project, people will ask us again
how we thought of that idea, and we’ll be stumped,
because from our perspective, it doesn’t feel like
we thought of it at all, it just feels like we found it. So we’ll play another video for you now
and the song along with it. This is for the song “The One Moment,” and for this one,
the sandbox was ballistics and math. So I spent a full month putting together
a giant spreadsheet for this. It was like my playspace
was 400 lines long and 25 columns wide — which I presume that if anybody is going
to understand that, it’s this crowd. (Laughter) Nothing is better
than a giant spreadsheet, right? (Laughter) Well, thank you everyone, very much. We are OK Go, and this is called “The One Moment.” (Applause) [The One Moment] (Explosions) [What you just saw was real and it took 4.2 seconds] (Video) Let me know when it’s safe. (Percussion) [Here’s the same moment … slowed down.] (Music) (Guitar) (Singing) You’re right, there’s nothing more lovely, there’s nothing more profound than the certainty, than the certainty
that all of this will end That all of this will end So open your arms to me, open your arms to me And this will be
the one moment that matters, and this will be
the one thing we remember, and this will be
the reason to have been here, and this will be
the one moment that matters — Oh … (Guitar) (Singing) So while the mud
reclaims our footprints, and while our bones keep looking back at the overgrowth
that’s swallowing the path — but for the grace of God go we, but for the grace of God go we But for the grace of time and chance
and entropy’s cruel hands — So open your arms to me, open your arms to me And this will be
the one moment that matters, and this will be
the one thing we remember, and this will be
the reason to have been here, and this will be
the one moment that matters Oh … So won’t you stay here with me and we’ll build
’til we’ve blistered our hands So won’t you stay here with me
and we’ll build us some temples, build us some castles, build us some monuments and burn them all right down (Music) (Singing) So open your arms to me And this will be
the one moment that matters, and this will be
the reason to have been here, and this will be
the one thing we remember, and this will be
the one moment that matters So won’t you stay here with me, we’ll build ’til we blister our hands And this will be
the one moment that matters — So won’t you stay here with me
and build us some temples — This will be the one
moment that matters — Build us some temples — The one moment that matters — Build us some monuments — The one moment that matters Build us some temples — The one moment that matters. Build us some monuments — The one moment that matters, oh (Guitar) (Applause)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

100 Comments

  1. OK Go was like… man, our music videos are so wild we could probably just speed up a video and tell people we made it in like 4 seconds or sumthn and they'd buy it.

  2. Besides the really good inspiring talk and the amazing videos, I'm kinda impressed they managed to synchronise to the videos live

  3. OK Go is the only group of people ever who are optimistic about a 27% chance. Maybe that's why they always surprise us.

  4. his body language are telling that he's a person with creative mind and his mind keep running calculating and finding ideas.

  5. Those videos are great enough in their own right, but the fact that they can play in time to them live is just the cherry on top

  6. 最初はいい曲!すげェPV!!って思っても言ってることや歌詞がわかるとまた新しくこういう意味だったのかっていう新鮮さがあります!
    今までも大好きだったけどもっと好きになれます(笑)
    コメント欄英語ばっかでなに書いてあるのかさっぱりだけれども!
    I love OK-Go!!

  7. One other thing that impresses me is that they're capable of playing each other's instruments. I had enough difficulty learning the piano.

  8. Damian & team, please never ever stop enjoying the world with your aaawesome music, lyrics & videos.

    "This too shall pass" hopefully applies to Donald Trump!

  9. They're freaking amazing! Every single music video of them are mind blowing, so glad to see them on Ted, which just happens to be one of the most amazing talk organisation in my opinion.

  10. I knew it to be a Rock star is about excel spreadsheets planing 🙂 4.2 seconds is cool video.

  11. Why don't you give credit to the original "Der Lauf der Dinge" by Fischli and Weiss from 1987? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Lm48xH6PaY

  12. Even the musical tone of the ending ted track thingy sounded in tune with the song. and in tempo.

    why did this get mild applause?

  13. Go into an idea and spend money without knowing what you're doing yet? My boss would never go for that. I need a new boss.

  14. Dude….I do the same exact thing…I thought I was the only one. I've known about this band for about a year now and never watched this video until now. Woah

  15. I play that little game too! I've never heard of someone else who likes to line things up like that. I like to line up my body with stuff, like my right foot has to be in-between the trash can and desk and my left has to be parallel to the book shelf, with the heel and toe lining up with the edge of the bookshelf and the red book, etc. Great minds think alike, right?

  16. Just took 17 minutes, 35 seconds and untold thousands of dollars and months and months of studio time to describe using serendipity and the creative process.

  17. Trish came up with a lot of these ideas though as well. The treadmill was her idea and she choreographed many of these and directed many too. She is insanely talented and creative.

  18. Elon musk was finding the most creative people for his space voyage .. I think his search ends here….😊😊

    Send OK GO in space and you won't regret any penny you spend on them.

  19. I have heard this song but it just hit me what it's about. Awesome that you created exactly say what is true

  20. reminds me of the episode of How I Met Your Mother when Marshall found out he could make signs all the time.

  21. they are inspirational. i’d love to see an fmri while he’s holding his thumb up making connections. they did an fmri of Stings brain activity, and because he spends so much time connecting music (right brain) with words (left brain) he has this massive super highway connection between his two halves of the brain compared to normal people… his brain has changed…

  22. Even the presentation was different , unique and amazing.
    And using the instrument to make sound effect also was amazing, you are brilliant guys!

  23. 7:16 "It doesn't feel like you thought of that puzzle piece; it feels like you found it."
    7:28 "We're usually looking for this specific feeling, which is WONDER. And there's always a component of SURPRISE to wonder. So we're not just looking for good ideas; we're looking for ideas that surprises us in some way."
    9:18 "The chance of getting all 130 things to not fail at the same time, is .9 (for 90%) to the 130th power. So calculate that out and you get .000001 (…) so your chance for success is literally one in a million."
    11:10 "So what we do is we try to identify some place where there might just be a ton of those untried ideas. We try to find a sandbox and then we gamble a whole bunch of our resources on getting in that sandbox and playing."
    12:05 "This may seem to you like testing, but it really isn't because at this point we don't yet know what our idea is. (…) We're just playing."

  24. humour explained….just like dissecting a frog…the frog dies, and nobody was that interested to begin with…(jimmy carr?)

  25. Beyond creative that i feel like crying for real. They are so passionate about arts and visuals!!! Wow! INFINITE RESPECT FOR THESE GUYS AND PEOPLE INVOLVED

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