Thinking in Images

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Most people think in words. When asked to imagine a traffic accident they come up with not very detailed descriptions, in comparison with people who are thinking in pictures. It became even worse if the words are becoming more and more abstract. Words as society, market, law, inflation etc. stay for them just words; they are unable to convert the words into images. Picture thinkers don’t have to translate, they think in pictures.

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As school systems are mainly auditory-sequential oriented, it is not surprising that mainly visual-spatial thinkers will have problems at school. Usually, they encounter learning difficulties. But not only at school. Most picture thinkers don’t fit well in traditional companies and institutions. They do things in other ways than expected or “normal”, due to “weaknesses” in thinking.

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Picture thinkers are also called right-brainers, as some popularisations oversimplify the science about lateralization, by presenting the functional differences between hemispheres as being more absolute than is actually the case.

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We have also committed to this theoretical sloppiness with left/right brain generalisations, although, a handy mini theory to generate creative ideas as we have demonstrated in Blocking the Left Brain Functions.

As we wrote in left brain/right brain thinking, the debate regarding about what goes on in our left and right brain hemispheres seems like a never-ending story. You will find support for the idea that creative people use the right hemisphere while people who are good at organising things are using their left hemisphere. But we can also find support for the idea that creative and non-creative thinking are not two different things but are more reinforcing each other.

The idea that the brain has different specialised functions that can be used to improve memory, learning and thinking are also the part of the foundation behind mind mapping.

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A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future, a book by Daniel H. Pink, posits that the future of global business belongs to the right-brainers. He outlines six essential senses:

  • Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.
  • Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument.
  • Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
  • Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
  • Play – Bringing humour and light-heartedness to business and products.
  • Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself.

Daniel Pink is one of an increasing number of writers on the importance of the Conceptual Economy, as a follow-up of the Information and Knowledge Age. Conceptual economy is a term describing the contribution of creativity, innovation, and design skills to economic competitiveness, especially in the global context. Other contributors to our understanding of the conceptual economy include Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat, Tom Kelley’s The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation, explaining the role of assets such as empathy, storytelling, individual experiences and stimulating work environments in fostering creative ideas.

The discussion about the necessity to escape from dominant linear-sequential thinking was earlier argued by Howard Gardner. He developed The Theory of Multiple Intelligences in his 1983 book Frames of Mind:

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In one of our next blog posts, we will give hints and tricks together with some useful resources to become “picture smart”. An essential skill to use mind mapping to the fullest of its advantages.

Gut Churn – What does it Feel Like to Execute Ideas?

How does ideas happen? Or rather how can I make it happen?

The aim of the 99U Conference was to discuss idea execution. Often we focus attention on idea generation, we explore various creative methods to get ideas and improve upon ideas and solutions. But what happens when your ideas are brought to life. What does it feel like?

In the talk below, Jad Abumrad talks about how it felt to start the public radio program  Radiolab that he hosts together with Robert Krulwich. This talk is one of the best that I have listened to about creativity for a long time (if you want to listen to the radio show, you can download them from iTunes).

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The magic that is created at the intersections of science and storytelling is the core of the Radiolab. A post-it note with the question “What does it mean to be dolphin?” highlights the idea that the listener should not be told and lectured about dolphins rather they should be a dolphin and get inside the dolphin. This is the way that information should be explained.

The happening of ideas is a journey characterised by “gut churn” – an uncomfortable anxious feeling. A feeling that you should run away!

Jad says:

“You can take the worst feeling in the world, reframe it, and suddenly that feeling is the solution. We can run from that feeling, or take that feeling itself as the pointing arrow. “Okay, I feel like my stomach is going to explode, but maybe that just means I’m on the right track.”

Enjoy!

Feelings Are An Asset To Thinking

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Many people have the opinion that feelings distract thinking, and the best is to get rid of them.
We came across a view from Dennis Perrin who in contrast states: “Feelings are an asset to thinking”.
 
Dennis Perrin is running Thinking Training in the UK, providing courses in Lateral thinking, Six Thinking Hats and the Power of Perception.
We invited him to explore his idea that takes into account feelings that will improve your thinking. Here is his short essay on the topic.
 

Feelings are more important than thinking. In the end, thinking is for human happiness, projects, improvements, and ideas that create benefits. So, feelings have a very important place in thinking. This is why Dr de Bono created the Red Hat, a Hat specially for feelings, emotion, intuition, hunches, and yes, ideas.

Years ago, I used to think that the more emotional I was, the more likely it would be that God would answer a prayer. Children know that by crying or raising a tantrum, that their parents will then see to their needs. I remember at age 16 praying desperately for an answer to a decision I had to make: a choice between jobs. Even so, there is still the psychological element that works in prayer. The feelings are made clear. When the feelings are clear, the way is also clear for good and better thinking.

We need to make a habit, from time to time, to note our feelings on an issue. We don’t want our feelings either to dominate our thinking or to masquerade as our only thinking. We want our feelings clear as feelings (intuition etc.) only. For instance, let’s say a particular FB Post makes someone feel angry. The angry response can be posted under the Red Hat. Then some relevant factors (white hat) can be thought about. Or a post can simply say: These are my feelings. (Just state them.)

But don’t spend more than 30 seconds on just feelings.

Feelings are a hindrance if they are not stated clearly as a legitimate part of the thinking. They are also a hindrance if they are allowed to dominate any proceedings.

Feelings are an asset once they are stated since everyone then knows what they are. They are an asset when they are stated because further down the road in the thinking process the feelings can be looked at again. After some thinking, feelings often change. New perceptions change feelings.

Feelings should be looked at from time to time as a measurement. A typical Red Hat (feeling) response might be: “An hour ago I felt annoyed but after this thinking I feel happy.” Or: “My red hat tells me that I should think seriously about this issue before I make a final decision. I may want to change everything.”

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Thank you, Dennis!