Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of describes how thinking of small ideas can often lead to bigger things.

Focusing on Small Ideas

Creativity is often thought of in the context of big ideas and big strategy changes.  However, managers should also give time to small ideas and small creativity.
I once got a very poor response from a contest I ran for ‘small ideas’. This may have been because people were not inspired by the concept of small ideas, or it may be that small ideas are even more difficult to come up with than big ones.

As an exercise, try coming up with a small change in the way you brush your teeth or the way you put on your shoes – this is good practice in creativity, even if you don’t use the new methods.

People with creative minds and habits should be able to look at anything at all and think of a different way to do it.  However, the key to the process is finding value in the alternative.
To help, you could try setting a guiding value.  Foe example, the new idea might reduce manufacturing costs, save time or make something easier to use.  Maybe the new method could lead to a more effective use for a product.

Instead of finding faults in an existing product, method or process, you should focus on showing the value of the alternative.  This is very different to the approach people generally take to problem solving.

Once the value has been identified you can then try to strengthen that value and maybe look at delivering it in a different way.  If you can’t find a value then the thinking reaches a full stop.
Creativity is a combination of ‘change thinking’ and ‘value thinking’.

Value sensitivity is a key skill for managers, but too much emphasis is placed on critical thinking and the search for the ‘next big idea’.

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.