Creative thinking can be learnt. How? By using thinking tools.
There are many tools for creative thinking, examples can be found in the following books:
- Edward de Bono presents 13 tools in his book Serious Creativity
- Grace McGartland has 25 tips and techniques in Thunderbolt Thinking(TM)
- Arthur VanGundy covers 29 tools in Idea Power
- Michael Michalko describes 34 techniques in Thinkertoys
- Roger von Oech has 64 methods in his Creative Whack Pack
- Koberg and Bagnall give guidance on 67 tools in The Universal Traveler
- James Higgins tops them all with his book 101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques.
As the author of this overview, Paul E. Plsek, noticed, there are at least 250 unique tools in these seven books.
So, if you master those 250 unique tools, are you then supposed to have a 10th Dan in creative martial arts?
As we earlier noted in our post Thinkibility Ultimately Explained we compared Thinkibility with “football-ity”, similar to something shown by stars as Johan Cruijff. It is not just agility and ball control. Nor velocity, or skill. It is more, much more.
Thinkibility is about virtuosity in thinking. What makes someone regarded as one of the finest thinkers in the world in particular for their dexterity, capable of executing extremely fast and fluent thinking? When can we say a person has a brilliant and showy technical skill of thinking? How do we describe it adequately, like we do in “in a final bravura the ballerina appeared to be floating in water”, or “the music ends with a display of bravura”.
For sure, mere mastering the techniques is not what you makes “a thinking star”. Again we have to turn back to our metaphor that links creativity to sports:
In a weekend self-defense seminar, the training exercises go exactly as planned: the attacker throws a straight punch at your face from three feet away, or tries to stab at you with a rubber knife from just such an angle. You learn to block, counter-attack, disarm, get away, and with a little practice, you can be consistently successful employing the technique.
Then reality sets in. You spar. You change training partners. And things don’t go exactly as they did when you were learning in slow motion. The technique you thought you had mastered fails you.
That doesn’t mean that the technique was useless. The techniques work, and work well, when the principles behind them are well understood, and when practice makes them second nature.
Innovation Lessons from a Martial Arts Seminar by Brad Barbera
But what are the basic concepts or principles underlying those creative thinking techniques?
The four principles in a scheme.
4. Information is channeling itself into a thinking pattern. There are many thinking patterns possible. The choice of the thinking pattern is the subject of the FOCUS stage –> 1 The information that itself organized into a thinking patterns leads to a compelling, unconscious,automatic outcome of the thinking, if left unattended –> 2 Escaping from current thinking is the next stage –> 3. Once escaped, there is a need to move away from the standard thinking and a desperate effort to move to a practical idea.
We could use these principles to design creative thinking techniques as a situation unfolds itself, as in a street fight.
See here an example about a challenge of Improving Information Flow in a Medical Clinic and one for “I want the local business section of the newspaper to feature a story on us hailing the innovative services that we have brought to our clients.”
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