CREATIVITY | 10 Creative Lessons from The Deadliest Catch


One of my favorite television shows (currently it may be an unhealthy obsession) is The Deadliest Catch.  Now, I happen to be one of the seven people in the world who do not have cable; so last year, when I discovered that the episodes could be had on Netflix, I took the time to add the first seasons to my queue (carefully spacing them so that I would never have two Catch DVDs at home at the same time – I love the anticipation! – but I digress…).  After enjoying the first couple of shows, my initial impressions were clearly established:

  • Alaska is beautiful.
  • The Bering Sea looks really cold.
  • Bald eagles?  Cool.
  • The motion and stink of the boat would likely make me hurl.
  • These fishermen are tough, strangely appealing, and pretty ingenious.

As I’ve made my way through the first five seasons of The Deadliest Catch, the list above has remained largely unchanged, and the last note in particular is one that resonates for me. Case in point:  In a recent episode, one of the crews found that a pipe that circulated fresh water into the crab hold had ruptured and was gushing a disturbing amount of water into the engine room. 

Out in the middle of the Bering Sea, of course, there are limited options for on-call plumbers – as in, there are none. The crew’s response?  To stay calm and work quickly to cut up a rainslicker that they then used as ‘tape’ to wrap around the damaged pipe, securing it with metal ties.  Together, the crew found a solution that was clever and effective.

I have found that The Deadliest Catch often has a lot to teach regarding the opportunity for creativity that awaits each of us in our next big emergency.  Your challenges may not be life and death as they are in the middle of the ocean, but certainly we each face our own professional equivalent of a missing anchor (“Uh oh…we’re going to need that…”). From the perspective of many ‘non-designers,’ there is an otherworld-ly quality to the nature of the design process and the creativity that results in seemingly simple solutions for complex challenges.  However, in every profession there are opportunities to use unconventional approaches to work a problem. 

As with The Deadliest Catch, the challenges each of us face are unique and often unsettling, but we should embrace them wholehartedly.  Ultimately, these unplanned events can serve to test your creative mind and invigorate your passion for what you do.  


  1. 360 VIEW.  Stay in tune with what is happening around you.
  2. BE AN EAGER GREENHORN.  Learn from those who know how to do what you want to do.
  3. DEVELOP.  Continue to improve the skills required in your profession.
  4. EXPAND.  Knowing how others do their jobs will help you see challenges from a different perspective.  Keep learning.
  5. ALL HANDS ON DECK .  Use the expertise of those around you for a better solution.
  6. WHAT’S YOUR RAINSLICKER?  Explore alternate uses for resources you have on hand.
  7. THINK INSTINCT.  Use your experience to act first, think second.
  8. BE FREE.  Know your job well so that you have the freedom to experiment.
  9. DO A JIG.  Remember to celebrate your successes and motivate the crew.
  10. KEEP FISHING.  When you come up empty, load up your gear and move to new ground.

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