2011-02-28

MAYA and Creative Horizons Theory

Industrial designer Raymond Loewy pioneered the concept of the best solution being the Most Advanced Yet Most Acceptable (MAYA). The concept looks at appropriateness from two angles – the first being how advanced the idea was then limiting that by what the target audience would find acceptable. Loewy said “The adult public's taste is not necessarily ready to accept the logical solutions to their requirements if the solution implies too vast a departure from what they have been conditioned into accepting as the norm.”
The best designers exercise high MAYA, that is they have their advanced ideas but know when to allow acceptability to limit that idea. Once an idea was in the public space then what is acceptable to the public expands because they have been exposed to new ideas. A famous example is the Beatles who started by releasing fairly safe popular music but became increasingly experimental as their fame allowed.
As always, when concepting ideas always start with creating the most advanced ideas first. During concepting boundaries” (and “Yet Acceptable” is a boundary) must be relaxed or overly safe ideas will happen. Once the concepts are created then the “Yet Acceptable” constraint can then be used to filter the concepts. The essence of the MAYA ideal is to be touching the “Yet Acceptable” boundary, not to remain safely within it.
Creative Horizons Theory (CHT) suggests that most people can only see a single horizon away from their present set of ideas. CHT also proposes a set of creativity labels for each horizon step away from the status quo (Copy, Derivative, Cool, Visionary, Crackpot). Both MAYA and CHT say that a solution too advanced will be unacceptable to its audience. CHT further suggests that an idea too far from the status quo is based on conjectures and assumptions about the solution that are more likely to be wrong the further from the status quo they are.
When you have your next wild idea consider using the lessons of MAYA to making the idea more immediately acceptable by walking it back a few Creative Horizons. Once the revised idea has been accepted then the true vision will have a better chance.