Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of on why value, and not difference, creates real interest.

Interesting Creativity

A key element of creativity is interest.  You often hear the comment, “Now, that’s interesting”; “What’s interesting about that is...” and “Very interesting”.  However, while “difference” can be interesting, it is not usually enough.  Too many people believe that “being different” is enough where creativity is concerned.

Visual difference might get an idea noticed, but that is all.  The difference must deliver real value, otherwise being different is not creativity.  But it is true that making something different could represent a “provocation”, from which you can find something of value.

We look for concepts that are interesting and search for what is interesting.  We take notice of interesting things and our attention is attracted by them, once we develop that habit of mind.  So once we have focused on what is interesting, what do we do next?

What we do is explore the point of interest – the implications, the ramifications, the effects and the results, and how other things are affected.

Exploring in this way goes further than the initial judgement. Exploration might involve the mental process of “movement”, a key part of lateral thinking.

You can focus on any point of development and use it as a springboard for other things.  The journey goes on.  You don’t so much assess the idea as explore the impact of the idea and the values involved.

When exploring interest, always look for “value”, because in the end that is what we are interested in.  Value or changes in value are immediately interesting.

There are two types of value.  The first is “functional value”.  Will the idea work and will it perform the necessary function?

For example, if a new idea for streetlights fails to control traffic flow, then there is no operational value.

Then there is “benefit value” – what benefit does the new idea bring to the different parties involved?  For instance, a new idea for supermarkets could benefit the customer, but at the expense of the operator.

Consider these different values when deciding what is interesting.

About the author
Edward de Bono is the world's leading authority in the field of creative thinking and the teaching of thinking as a skill.