August 11, 2010
35 Creative Thinking Techniques

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Those of us at Idea Champions have been designing and facilitating creative thinking sessions for a wide range of organizations since 1986.

We've worked with left-brained people, right-brained people, and air-brained people -- all of whom have been interested in "getting out of the box."

In the process of providing our service, one thing has continued to astound us: No one has any time, or more precisely -- thinks they have any time. And because they don't, the need to "cut to the chase" remains paramount.

Speed rules -- and along with it the desire for "tools and techniques."

Now, we have nothing against tools and techniques. They can be very helpful. Golf pros give them out all the time. But tools and techniques are never enough -- especially in the realm of creative thinking.

Can they be useful? Yes, they can -- in the same way that jumper cables can be useful if your car won't start. But first you need a car -- and after that, someplace to go! Without a car and a destination, jumper cables are just a meaningless prop.

If you are committed to birthing a BIG IDEA, first understand that the car is you and the engine that powers the car is your passion for bringing something new into the world.

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Only when that is in place, will tools and techniques make sense.

Some of the methods described in Awake at the Wheel will be right up your alley. Some will not. Some are so common-sensical you'll think you could have invented them. Some are so non-sensical you'll dismiss them as trivial.

Don't worry about loving them all. You won't. Just find the ones that interest you and give them a shot -- whatever it takes to get those wheels inside you turning once again.

Two different parts of you will be activated by these methods: the subconscious and the conscious.

The sub-conscious tools will increase your receptivity to new ideas, helping you access the part of you that already knows. Using the subconscious tools will feel a bit like walking into a dark room. At first there will seem to be nothing to see. But after a while your eyes will adjust and you'll begin making sense of what is there.

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The second set of tools is less about receptivity than proactivity.

This approach presumes it is possible to quicken creativity by purposefully shaking things up in various ways. Experimentation is an important part of this approach. Trial and error, too -- much in the same way that chemists mix and match elements in the hopes of synthesizing new discoveries.

Is there a perfect technique? No. Just like there's no perfect diet, place to live, or relationship. What works for you on Monday may not work for you on Sunday. What works for you in the morning may not work for you at night.

But that's what makes the world -- just like the wheel -- go round and round.

And that's why we offer you 35 different methods to choose from. Is there an organizing principle? Yes, there is. The tools fall into five categories:

1. INTEND: To have in mind as something to be done or brought about; to have a purpose or design.

2. ATTEND: To be present at; to take care of or wait upon; to listen and give heed to.

3. SUSPEND: To defer opinion or evaluation to a later occasion; to render temporarily void.

4. EXTEND: To stretch out; to place at full length; to enlarge the scope of or make more comprehensive.

5. CONNECT: To join or unite; to establish communication between; to associate, attach or place in relationship.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at August 11, 2010 07:24 PM

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