Can creative thinking itself be structured thinking? Does it also use some techniques that require you to follow others? Indeed.
Creative thinking is like behaving what an astronaut has to do in moving from the earth to the moon. First, the astronaut has to escape the force of gravity of the earth. Once done, he is now in free space. There it is not good to move around aimlessly hoping that somehow you’ll find a way to the moon. A better strategy is to locate the moon and start moving towards it.
‘Breaking out of the present, wrong, box’ is necessary but so is ‘breaking into the new, right, box.’
Once on the right approach to the moon, the astronaut needs to forcibly enter its gravitational force. If done, he is quite easily pulled in by the gravity of the moon. All he now needs to do is a safe landing.
In typical problem solving, escaping the force that keeps him attracted to the present context requires techniques of ‘breaking out of the box’. Normal creative thinking does this by using artificial triggers that forcibly break your mental connection with the present context. Another technique used is ‘Re-focus or Re-framing’. TRIZ does this by using techniques like ‘Ideality’ or the system operator concept like 9 Windows.
Having escaped the gravitation of the existing context, one now needs to ‘move in’ into the gravity of the desired space. That is best done by using experience if those who have felt the same need in the past and found some good solutions. If some people have already found good crossing places in a ford and laid markers, why not follow them?
Once you know that what you need is ‘a wheel’ and that a wheel does exist somewhere, why try to re-invent it?
TRIZ relies heavily on this i.e. how to find benefit from the collective wisdom of those who have ‘been there, done that’. The most direct TRIZ tool for this is that of contradiction resolution which lays down the 40 Inventive Principles e.g. the other way round, copying, intermediary, self-service, discarding & recovering etc.
For a long time now, people have used these principles to create inventive solutions so why don’t you too use it? Edward de bono too tells us that it not good to aimlessly wander around, hoping and wishing that you’ll find moon on your own. To do that efficiently, you should do something to get pulled in the desired direction by using a check list of 20 techniques e.g me too, de-averaging, situation assets, ‘left-behind’ and variable value.
The technique of ‘trends’ also seeks to benefit from collective wisdom of how most people are behaving is a specific situation.
Business Model technique too does quite the same by gently guiding you to some very fertile areas of questioning the basics.
Peter Drucker’s 5 Opportunity Areas too does the same.
Bio-mimicry too uses knowledge of how nature has solved a problem similar like yours.
The TRIZ techniques of Ideality and System Operator (9 Windows, STI – Space Time Interface) do both acts in one move – break out of the wrong box, and simultaneously, break-in into the right box.
A good facilitator with knowledge of all these techniques can easily find out which one is best indicated for your specific situation and thus help you achieve your goals most efficiently.
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