THE BLOG

In Business or Travel, Recombobulation's the Ticket

10/27/2010 03:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Milwaukee's Mitchell Airport has the right idea with its "recombobulation area." It's a cool nod to the challenges of travel these days, from shoe removal to security wands to frantic dashes to distant gates in search of your next connection.

For those who haven't traveled through Mitchell Airport, they've named the area on the gate side of security the "recombobulation area." It's where you put your shoes and belt back on, repack the laptop and maybe regain a little dignity.

It's more than just the travel experience that leads to the need for a recombobulation space to recover from discombobulating occurrences. But travel is a good metaphor for today's business life, where boundaries and beliefs are continually deconstructing and reconstructing. It's a path that's generally familiar, yet marked by a variety of unknown detours and obstacles.

The world of known uncertainties is what the recombobulation area is all about. Sometimes, in travel, in business, in life, you just need to reset yourself. Consider three ways to recombobulate to better deal with the known uncertainties of today's business times and re-spark your creative edge while you're at it.

Breathe Fresh Air. Fresh air is a rare commodity when you're traveling. You move from your car to the station or airport and from there to the plane or train. You arrive at your destination, grab another cab and are deposited at the hotel. How much fresh air do you breathe during your travels? When you're limited to breathing artificial, recirculated air, you're limiting your exposure to new and different environments and experiences that will help you maintain your creative edge. For the 33 Chilean miners trapped 2,300 feet below ground, it's a literal issue, leading the Chilean government to look outside the mining industry for solutions. The source of fresh thinking? NASA, whose considerable experience dealing with humans in the isolation and tedium of space is hoped to yield direct benefits here.

Own the Process. It's all too easy when traveling to keep your head down and hope for the best as you surrender to the process. You hope the guy in front of you in the security line knows what he's doing. You hope your flight departs on time. You hope you make your connection. You hope your luggage arrives. When you own the process, you drive the experience. That's how McDonald's restaurants sees things. It has forged ahead with innovations like its expanded beverage offerings during the down economy, and healthy snack wraps as eating habits shift more healthy. Meanwhile, competitor Burger King has hunkered down and merely competed on value, leading to recent struggles.

Raise Expectations (Yours and Everyone Else's). It's hard not to fall into the trap of expecting the worst when traveling. "Sure, the flight's on time. But we'll probably sit for an hour on the tarmac before we de-plane." And you're pleasantly surprised if your low expectations are surpassed. But when you limit expectations to a very low bar, you're limiting your ability to think big and create big. Consider whoever had any expectations of the Pop-Tart beyond a breakfast food? Kellogg and a group of experiential marketers, that's who. They've re-set everyone else's expectations with Pop-Tarts World on Times Square, a store dedicated to the delicious treat where you can enjoy Pop-Tarts "sushi," video games, create your own Pop-Tarts delicacy and more.

Recombobulation. It's an idea whose time has come. Determine how and where you can reset to manage your own known uncertainties. You'll unleash your inner creative in the process.