Edward de Bono of www.thinkingmanagers.com believes that, with the use of lateral thinking, creativity can and should be learned and developed as a formal skill in the human race.
The inspiration for creativity can come from information or an event. But what about when there is no such inspiration? How can creativity be sustained?
That's when the deliberate tools of lateral thinking can be used. If you train your mind in the right way, it can provide the events that trigger new ideas.
Try spending 20 minutes to come up with five different ways of running a car park. This test demonstrates the difference between the deliberate formulation of ideas and just relying on inspiration.
A very simple technique can be used which seems totally illogical in terms of our normal thinking patterns. Pick a random word and use it for the formulation of new ideas. If the word really is random, it can be used for any situation.
My watch says 56 seconds and word number 56 on my list of random words is ‘coin’. Now I can use the word ‘coin’ to come up with new ideas on running a car park.
The most obvious idea is for the car park to be coin operated, either as a whole or in individual parking areas.
Now we can try to get more ideas from the same word. Coins are round – the car park could be circular, in a spiral arrangement.
Coins have two faces – you can have a short-term and long-term car park.
Coins are a convenient, transportable store of value – petrol stations could provide vouchers or tokens to be used as payment in car parks.
Coins are carried loosely in pockets or purses – cars could drive onto a small mobile platform and then be moved around the car park to make the most of the space available.
Small coins can add up to equal the value of bigger coins – there could be ‘free’ car parks run on a points system. You would need a certain number of points for entry.
Coins suggest value – what is the value of a car park? Is it just a place for parking cars? What if the car park owned all the cars and leased them out as well as the place to park them?.
Coins suggest exchange – how about exchanging your fast car for a smaller city model after you have driven into the car park?
You can come up with all these ideas by using just one random word. This shows that we no longer need to see creativity as a magical gift, or the outcome of a brainstorming session, or the result of a chance event.
You can be as deliberate about creativity as you can about mathematics.
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