Non Standard Leadership Techniques

Four Easy Steps to Problem Solving and Creativity

Martin Mak asked:

Flashes of inspiration are quite common and happens in practically all aspects of human life. But unlike a mathematical proof, these are often very personal, and cannot always be reconstructed by other people. By the way, it is a good idea to put down your thoughts in writing, for 90 percent of all good ideas get lost forever if they are not immediately jotted down. Also, not every good thought can be used immediately. Sometimes, ideas or inspirations are only fragments of a whole, which first have to be polished and supplemented with additional pieces. This is something that poets, playwrights and novelists do, they jot down parts for poems, stories, settings or characters as they occur, returning to them later to be developed and become a verse, a scene or a piece of dialogue.

However, for most of us, wonderful answers don’t just appear all by themselves. One of the most important prerequisites for creative work is to suspend automatic behavior and monotonous functions. The routine that says “this is the way its always been done” is the death knell for inspiration.

One of the most effective methods of creative thinking is brainstorming. Basically there are four rules to the method.

One – anything and everything can be said.

Two – the more ideas expressed, the better.

Three – No one should ridicule anyone’s idea.

Four – Any adaptation, improvements or combinations to the ideas presented is encouraged. The beauty of this technique is not to find exactly the right answer since there can be many answers to the problems – but to provoke new ideas that have previously not been thought of.

The most important and most difficult rule for such a communal sharing of ideas is – no criticism. This would immediately stifle the creative process and collective thinking of the group involved in the brain-storming. New ideas presented need not be explained or even defended. They must only be taken down spontaneously and in rapid sequence then, at a later stage, they can be evaluated by the entire team to find out if they are of use or not. Do you find that you are stuck in certain situations? Do you need to face up to new ideas? Then brainstorming may be just the right creative method for you.

Here’s an example to show how effective the technique can be while searching for a zip replacement for space suits, NASA designers employed a particularly open technique of idea generation. One participant would pick a word or term at random from the dictionary – for example “forest”. During the brainstorming session, he imagined walking through a forest with thorns getting stuck on his clothes. For the astronauts, the result was a type of fastener which thousands of thorn-like fibres hook into one another. The material was named Velcro. Today, it is not only a household name, it is used in space, in the military, in workshops –everywhere.

You need not have a group of people in order to brainstorm. You can do it on your own. Imagine in your mind that you have a group of advisors offering the pros and cons of an idea. Remember, you need to convince yourself that the answer or solution is already lodged somewhere in your memory. Take a walk along a beach or a garden to see how nature solves its problems, they may yet offer clues to yours.


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