Late in January 1975, a 17-year-old German girl called Vera Brandes walked out onto the stage of the Cologne Opera House. The auditorium was empty. It was lit only by the dim, green glow of the emergency exit sign. This was the most exciting day of Vera's life.

  1975年的一月下旬,一个叫维拉·布兰德斯的17岁的德国女孩从幕后走上了科隆歌剧院的舞台。 观众席上空无一人。全场仅仅被一个绿色安全出口标志的昏暗的光微微照亮。这一天是维拉生命中最最激动的一天。

  She was the youngest concert promoter in Germany, and she had persuaded the Cologne Opera House to host a late-night concert of jazz from the American musician, Keith Jarrett. 1,400 people were coming. And in just a few hours,Jarrett would walk out on the same stage, he'd sit down at the piano and without rehearsal or sheet music, he would begin to play.

  她在当时是德国 最年轻的演奏会经纪人, 她说服了科隆歌剧院举办美国音乐家——基思·杰瑞特的一个爵士深夜场音乐会。1400位观众即将到场。再过几个小时,杰瑞特就会走上那个舞台,坐在钢琴旁,不经过排练,没有乐谱,就开始他的演奏。

  But right now, Vera was introducing Keith to the piano in question, and it wasn't going well. Jarrett looked to the instrument a little warily, played a few notes, walked around it, played a few more notes,muttered something to his producer. Then the producer came over to Vera and said ... "If you don't get a new piano, Keith can't play."

  但那时候, 维拉向基思展示的钢琴出了些问题,而且情况不是太好。杰瑞特仔细地看了看那个钢琴,弹了几个音,绕着钢琴走了一圈之后,又弹了几个音,跟他的制作人嘟囔了几句。然后制作人过去跟维拉说—— “如果你们弄不来一台新的钢琴,基思今天就弹不成了。”

  There'd been a mistake. The opera house had provided the wrong instrument. This one had this harsh, tinny upper register, because all the felt had worn away. The black notes were sticking, the white notes were out of tune, the pedals didn't work and the piano itself was just too small. It wouldn't create the volume that would fill a large space such as the Cologne Opera House.


  So Keith Jarrett left. He went and sat outside in his car, leaving Vera Brandes to get on the phone to try to find a replacement piano. Now she got a piano tuner, but she couldn't get a new piano. And so she went outside and she stood there in the rain, talking to Keith Jarrett, begging him not to cancel the concert. And he looked out of his car at this bedraggled, rain-drenched German teenager, took pity on her, and said, "Never forget ... only for you."

  所以基思·杰瑞特就走了。他走出去坐在他的车里,留下了维拉·布兰德斯在那里打电话试着弄来一台能用的钢琴。她找到了个钢琴调音师,但她弄不到新钢琴。然后她也出去了,站在雨中,开始跟基思·杰瑞特交谈,求他不要取消那场音乐会。他看向车外那个全身被雨浇透的德国年轻人,心中升起了同情,说道, “别忘了啊——我只为你这样做。”

  And so a few hours later, Jarrett did indeed step out onto the stage of the opera house, he sat down at the unplayable piano and began.


  Within moments it became clear that something magical was happening. Jarrett was avoiding those upper registers, he was sticking to the middle tones of the keyboard, which gave the piece a soothing, ambient quality. But also, because the piano was so quiet, he had to set up these rumbling, repetitive riffs in the bass. And he stood up twisting, pounding down on the keys, desperately trying to create enough volume to reach the people in the back row.


  It's an electrifying performance. It somehow has this peaceful quality, and at the same time it's full of energy, it's dynamic. And the audience loved it. Audiences continue to love it because the recording of the K?ln Concert is the best-selling piano album in history and the best-selling solo jazz album in history.


  Keith Jarrett had been handed a mess. He had embraced that mess, and it soared. But let's think for a moment about Jarrett's initial instinct. He didn't want to play. Of course, I think any of us, in any remotely similar situation, would feel the same way, we'd have the same instinct. We don't want to be asked to do good work with bad tools. We don't want to have to overcome unnecessary hurdles.


  But Jarrett's instinct was wrong, and thank goodness he changed his mind. And I think our instinct is also wrong. I think we need to gain a bit more appreciation for the unexpected advantages of having to cope with a little mess. So let me give you some examples from cognitive psychology, from complexity science, from social psychology, and of course, rock 'n' roll.


  So cognitive psychology first. We've actually known for a while that certain kinds of difficulty, certain kinds of obstacle, can actually improve our performance. For example, the psychologist Daniel Oppenheimer, a few years ago, teamed up with high school teachers. And he asked them to reformat the handouts that they were giving to some of their classes. So the regular handout would be formatted in something straightforward, such as Helvetica or Times New Roman.

  那么首先是认知心理学。我们都已经很明白了一些特定的困难和一些特定的障碍的存在实际上可以提升我们的表现。举例来说,心理学家丹尼尔·奥本海默几年前和一些高中老师进行了一次合作。他要求老师们重新规定他们的一些课堂教课所用讲义的格式。普通讲义的格式都是很直截了当的,比如Helvetica或Times New Roam字体。

  But half these classes were getting handouts that were formatted in something sort of intense, like Haettenschweiler, or something with a zesty bounce, like Comic Sans italicized. Now, these are really ugly fonts, and they're difficult fonts to read. But at the end of the semester, students were given exams, and the students who'd been asked to read the more difficult fonts, had actually done better on their exams, in a variety of subjects.

  但其中一半的课堂将会得到重新规定格式的讲义,比如用Haettenschweiler这种棱角分明的字体,或者是斜体Comic Sans这种看起来有跳跃性的漫画字体。这些字体是很丑的,并且不易读。但在那个学期的期末,学生们考试的时候,那些被要求读了一个学期复杂字体的学生们,最后很多学科的成绩反而更好。

  And the reason is, the difficult font had slowed them down,forced them to work a bit harder, to think a bit more about what they were reading, to interpret it ... and so they learned more.

  原因就是,读更复杂的字体让他们塌下心来,逼着他们付出更多的努力,对他们正在读的东西就会多一些思考,可以更好地理解······ 所以他们学到的就更多。

  Another example. The psychologist Shelley Carson has been testing Harvard undergraduates for the quality of their attentional filters. What do I mean by that? What I mean is, imagine you're in a restaurant, you're having a conversation, there are all kinds of other conversations going on in the restaurant, you want to filter them out, you want to focus on what's important to you.


  Can you do that?If you can, you have good, strong attentional filters. But some people really struggle with that. Some of Carson's undergraduate subjects struggled with that. They had weak filters, they had porous filters -- let a lot of external information in. And so what that meant is they were constantly being interruptedby the sights and the sounds of the world around them. If there was a television on while they were doing their essays, they couldn't screen it out.

  你能做到吗?如果你可以的话,你就有很好、很强的注意力过滤能力。但是有些人确实不容易做到。一些卡尔森实验的毕业生也或多或少地缺乏这种能力。他们的过滤能力不强,容易把很多关键信息漏掉——但却会引入很多外部信息。意思就是说他们会不断地被他们周围世界中的声色所干扰。如果当他们写作的时候旁边有一台开着的电视, 他们排除不了电视的干扰。

  Now, you would think that that was a disadvantage ... but no. When Carson looked at what these students had achieved, the ones with the weak filters were vastly more likely to have some real creative milestone in their lives, to have published their first novel, to have released their first album.These distractions were actually grists to their creative mill. They were able to think outside the box because their box was full of holes.

  现在,你可能会觉得这是个缺点······ 但并不是。当卡尔森观察这些学生的表现时,那些过滤能力较弱的学生极有可能在他们的一生中建立真正的创造性的里程碑,更可能出版他们的第一部小说,或者发行第一张唱片。这些外部的干扰实际上激发了他们的创意机能。他们可以跳出固有的思维模式,因为他们的思维模式中全是“小孔”。

  Let's talk about complexity science. So how do you solve a really complex -- the world's full of complicated problems -- how do you solve a really complicated problem?

  让我们聊一聊复杂性科学。那么你们是怎么解决一个真正复杂的——这个世界充满了复杂的问题——你们是怎么解决一个 确实复杂的问题的呢?

  For example, you try to make a jet engine. There are lots and lots of different variables, the operating temperature, the materials, all the different dimensions, the shape. You can't solve that kind of problem all in one go, it's too hard. So what do you do? Well, one thing you can do is try to solve it step-by-step. So you have some kind of prototype and you tweak it, you test it, you improve it. You tweak it, you test it, you improve it.


  Now, this idea of marginal gains will eventually get you a good jet engine. And it's been quite widely implemented in the world. So you'll hear about it, for example, in high performance cycling, web designers will talk about trying to optimize their web pages, they're looking for these step-by-step gains.

  这种边际增益的理念最终可以让你做出一个很好的喷气式发动机。这种方法在全世界 都广泛应用。你可能会听说,比如在高性能循环领域,网页设计师会讨论试图优化他们的网站,他们会寻找这些逐步收益。

  That's a good way to solve a complicated problem. But you know what would make it a better way? A dash of mess. You add randomness, early on in the process, you make crazy moves, you try stupid things that shouldn't work, and that will tend to make the problem-solving work better. And the reason for that is the trouble with the step-by-step process, the marginal gains, is they can walk you gradually down a dead end. And if you start with the randomness, that becomes less likely, and your problem-solving becomes more robust.


  Let's talk about social psychology. So the psychologist Katherine Phillips, with some colleagues,recently gave murder mystery problems to some students, and these students were collected in groups of four and they were given dossiers with information about a crime -- alibis and evidence, witness statements and three suspects.

  我们来谈一谈社会心理学。心理学家凯瑟琳·菲利普斯和几个同事最近把神秘谋杀案 交给了一些学生解决,这些学生编为四人一组,他们每组都得到了含有一个案件信息的卷宗——包括不在场证明和证据,证人证言和三个嫌疑犯。

  And the groups of four students were asked to figure out who did it, who committed the crime. And there were two treatments in this experiment. In some cases these were four friends, they all knew each other well. In other cases, three friends and a stranger.And you can see where I'm going with this.


  Obviously I'm going to say that the groups with the stranger solved the problem more effectively,which is true, they did. Actually, they solved the problem quite a lot more effectively. So the groups of four friends, they only had a 50-50 chance of getting the answer right. Which is actually not that great -- in multiple choice, for three answers? 50-50's not good.


  The three friends and the stranger, even though the stranger didn't have any extra information, even though it was just a case of how that changed the conversation to accommodate that awkwardness,the three friends and the stranger, they had a 75 percent chance of finding the right answer. That's quite a big leap in performance.


  But I think what's really interesting is not just that the three friends and the stranger did a better job,but how they felt about it. So when Katherine Phillips interviewed the groups of four friends, they had a nice time, they also thought they'd done a good job. They were complacent. When she spoke to the three friends and the stranger, they had not had a nice time -- it's actually rather difficult, it's rather awkward ... and they were full of doubt. They didn't think they'd done a good job even though they had. And I think that really exemplifies the challenge that we're dealing with here.

  但我觉得真正有趣的不仅仅是三个好朋友和一个陌生人的组做得更好,而是他们参加这次实验的感受。当凯瑟琳·菲利普斯采访四个好朋友的组时,他们说感觉很开心,他们同样也觉得自己做得很好。他们很满足。当她采访三个好朋友和一个陌生人的组时,他们说他们相处的不是很好——他们相处得比较困难,互相之间还很尴尬······ 工作之中充满了疑惑。即使他们已经做得很好了,然而他们还是觉得不太好。而我觉得这可以很好地例证 我们今天讨论的问题。

  Because, yeah -- the ugly font, the awkward stranger, the random move ... these disruptions help us solve problems, they help us become more creative. But we don't feel that they're helping us. We feel that they're getting in the way ... and so we resist. And that's why the last example is really important.

  因为,其实——难看的字体,尴尬的陌生人,随意的工作方法······ 这些阻碍使我们更好地解决问题,它们使我们更加迸发创意。但我们却并不觉得这些帮助了我们。我们觉得它们阻碍了我们······ 我们就跟它们对抗。这就是为什么这最后一个例子特别重要的原因。

  So I want to talk about somebody from the background of the world of rock 'n' roll. And you may know him, he's actually a TED-ster. His name is Brian Eno. He is an ambient composer -- rather brilliant.


  He's also a kind of catalyst behind some of the great rock 'n' roll albums of the last 40 years. He's worked with David Bowie on "Heroes," he worked with U2 on "Achtung Baby" and "The Joshua Tree,"he's worked with DEVO, he's worked with Coldplay, he's worked with everybody.

  他也是过去40年中 很多摇滚乐巨作诞生的催化剂。他和大卫·鲍伊合作过歌曲《Heroes》,他和U2合作过歌曲《Achtung Baby》《The Joshua Tree》。他和退化乐队(DEVO)合作过,他和酷玩乐队(Coldplay)合作过,他和很多人都合作过。

  And what does he do to make these great rock bands better? Well, he makes a mess. He disrupts their creative processes. It's his role to be the awkward stranger. It's his role to tell them that they have to play the unplayable piano.

  那么他为了使这些摇滚乐队变得更好做了些什么呢? 他制造麻烦。他阻碍他们的创作过程。他的角色就是做那个“尴尬的陌生人”。他的任务就是告诉他们一定要弹一下 那台坏了的钢琴。

  And one of the ways in which he creates this disruption is through this remarkable deck of cards -- I have my signed copy here -- thank you, Brian. They're called The Oblique Strategies, he developed them with a friend of his. And when they're stuck in the studio, Brian Eno will reach for one of the cards. He'll draw one at random, and he'll make the band follow the instructions on the card.


  So this one ... "Change instrument roles." Yeah, everyone swap instruments -- Drummer on the piano -- Brilliant, brilliant idea.

  看看这一张—— “改变演奏乐器”。是的,每个人都交换一下乐器——比如鼓手去弹钢琴—— 真是非常非常棒的主意。

  "Look closely at the most embarrassing details. Amplify them."

  "Make a sudden, destructive, unpredictable action. Incorporate."

  These cards are disruptive.




  Now, they've proved their worth in album after album. The musicians hate them.


  So Phil Collins was playing drums on an early Brian Eno album. He got so frustrated he started throwing beer cans across the studio.


  Carlos Alomar, great rock guitarist, working with Eno on David Bowie's "Lodger" album, and at one point he turns to Brian and says, "Brian, this experiment is stupid." But the thing is it was a pretty good album, but also, Carlos Alomar, 35 years later, now uses The Oblique Strategies. And he tells his students to use The Oblique Strategies because he's realized something. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it isn't helping you.

  卡洛斯·阿洛玛,非常优秀的摇滚吉他手,和伊诺一起参与过大卫·鲍伊专辑《Lodger》的制作。有一回,他跟布莱恩说, “布莱恩,这个实验蠢透了。” 但事实证明那是一张非常棒的专辑,而且,卡洛斯·阿洛玛在35年后,也就是现在正在使用“倾斜策略”。他还介绍给他的学生们使用“倾斜策略”,因为他懂了一个道理。那就是你不喜欢它并不代表它对你没用。

  The strategies actually weren't a deck of cards originally, they were just a list -- list on the recording studio wall. A checklist of things you might try if you got stuck.

  这种策略实际上 原本并不是那一叠卡片, 而是一个列表—— 列在录音工作室的墙上。 列表上写着当你创意枯竭的时候 你可以尝试做的事。

  The list didn't work. Know why? Not messy enough. Your eye would go down the list and it would settle on whatever was the least disruptive, the least troublesome, which of course misses the point entirely.


  And what Brian Eno came to realize was, yes, we need to run the stupid experiments, we need to deal with the awkward strangers, we need to try to read the ugly fonts. These things help us. They help us solve problems, they help us be more creative.


  But also ... we really need some persuasion if we're going to accept this. So however we do it ...whether it's sheer willpower, whether it's the flip of a card or whether it's a guilt trip from a German teenager, all of us, from time to time, need to sit down and try and play the unplayable piano.

  但是同样······ 我们需要一些“外部因素” 来让我们接受这样做。所以不管我们怎样做······ 不管是靠纯粹的意志力,还是靠抽出的那张卡片,还是碰见了一个德国青年内疚的经历,我们所有人,有时,都需要坐下来,试着弹弹那台弹不了的钢琴。

  Thank you.(Applause)