In an earlier post we republished Michael Michalko’s The Difference between the way the average person thinks and a creative genius thinks” As Michael Michalko noticed that an average person focusses his attention on a specific information and excluding all … Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Classical marketing campaigns are mostly massive in nature, like the Napoleonic Wars. By using brute force and heavenly leaning on resources (people, money, gun power, logistics, management skills) they ty to win. Basically, both parties are in the same game, each trying to use better but more-of-the-same tactics.
An alternative for the not so powerful is to turn to guerrilla warfare. Poor but highly dedicated small teams use asymmetric tactics to surprise and confuse the enemy, thereby using maximal creativity.
But what is creative thinking?
Creative thinking is not doing more-of-the-same
(in the example: applying straight lines), but breaking away from that, for instance by using curved or broken lines.
However, it is not easy to break away from standard patterns.
Also, any time we break a standard way of thinking, a behaviour or new idea, bystanders will react with a rejection: this is impossible, it can’t work, it is too costly, complex, difficult or risky. Every time a negative is used, the thinking stops.
Creative marketing is escaping from the standard approaches that are used by big companies. But how to get new ideas?
Normally we think with the speed of light to the first satisfying idea
By that, we miss interesting alternatives along the way
With a Provocative Operation we break away from mainstream thinking. The Provocative Operation (moving outside the mainstream to the green spot) is a attempt to escape standard thinking in order to arrive at an original idea.
For instance: Apple sells our (paper)notebook together with their notebooks.
We will discuss four creative thinking techniques to escape standard thinking:
- Taken for Granted
- The Provocation
- Use Resources
Taken for Granted
Make a list of taken for granted things of a product, at least 15. That is what is normal, assumed to be, standard, generally accepted or obvious. Then we escape by abandon it or modify it.
It is taken for granted that a restaurant has a venue and that the guests are dressed.
A restaurant does not have a venue. That could lead to the idea to set up a picnic service for romantic people.
Guests are naked. That could lead to the idea of a nudist restaurant.
To get creative marketing ideas about for instance an Eco bottle. What is obvious of a bottle (form, materials, filling, getting it, getting rid of it, etc.). Then modify (remove, amplify, change, combine, etc).
Try to escape negatives by redefining criticism by “this is interesting” and “under what circumstances might this have value”, or “could we create value out of this?”. The aim of the Provocation is to move forward the thinking towards an idea that works.
Sandwiches will make themselves
Senor citizens, refugees and children donate by age for using supporting services.
We tend to solve problems by using known and standard solutions. For instance: for attaching something to the ceiling we automatically think of a ladder. But only after we give ourselves the explicit thinking order to use what is at hand, we come up with alternatives: using tables, making a tower of bodies, using the walls, making a long pole.
This creativity technique is also called: think inside the box, meaning no adding additional resources
Make a list of props (things) and persons in your immediate surroundings. Think up in what ways they could contribute or add value.
A petrol company wanted to create more brand loyalty. That is not simple, for most drivers petrol is just petrol. One of the company’s resources is the car driver. By getting under the skin of the driver, they discovered that getting a parking place in town is an important value for the customer. So they set up a cooperation with parking garages. For the drivers, the petrol company and the parking garage a win-win situation. Together they delivered an integrated value.
Could we design integrated values for the customers of a fruit selling shop?
Defining the thinking task before beginning an idea generation session is one of the most neglected stages.
Most starting questions are far too broad defined. For instance. In What Ways Might We (IWWMW) get more clients.
However, it is more helpful to break it down into smaller topics, as “IWWMW add more value to our product”,“IWWMW get more clients with help of our existing clients”, “IWWMW use other product to sell ours. Redefine at least 15 IWWMW’s in order to escape from the obvious ones and get a really creative challenge.
Avoid formulating IWWMW’s becoming too small. In that case, the IWWMW will just be a concrete solution and will not give you any direction for further searching new ideas.
Then make the challenge less boring and sexier. That is: make them more imaginative, outreaching, challenging, interesting. For instance: sex up “IWWMW get more clients by using our existing clients”.“Our clients collect so much organic waste that we have to export it”.
Then add a constraint: people, money, time, channels.
Finally construct a propelling question, a question that drives forward the effort for creative thinking by using a bold ambition and a significant restriction. For instance: “let’s get 50 more clients by firing all account managers”.
Again, the technique of the creative focus is to force oneself outside common thinking. The technique on the focus can be applied to all of the four of the marketing mix:
- functionality, packing and service of the Product
- policies about paying and Price
- sales, advertisements, Publicity
- and Promotion logistics, storage, inventory and selling channels
Creative Marketing is all about standing out of your competitors, being perceived as a Blue Fish, at no costs.
However, in an electronic war game back in 2002 one aircraft carrier, ten cruisers and five out of six amphibious ships were sent to the bottom of the Persian Gulf in the span of just one hour, resulting in the virtual death of over 20.000 US service personnel.
It was the result of an asymmetric strategy by the opponent forces.
Military strategists distinguish between symmetric and asymmetric warfare. Symmetric warfare is characterized by standing armies that follows more or less the same tactics and organized in the same way. Their standard mode of operation can be traced back to Napoleonic Warfare.
Guerrilla warfare is an escape from fighting according to the rules imposed by the often far more powerful opponent. Therefore, this strategy is often applied by less powerful opponents. The most famous form is guerrilla warfare, next to terrorism.
Asymmetric competitor strategies could be an effective approach in business. Basically, it is not playing the game similar to the other companies, that is selling and marketing the same products as competitors but cheaper and better. It is about disruptive innovation, changing the rules in the market, by delivering a complete different product than you competitor does. It is all about gaining competitive advantage by creating an unique niche in the market. Playing another race at a different circuit.
There is much more to say about the embarrassing destruction of the mighty US Navy, as the over reliance on technological superiority and information dominance. Also, the neglect of intuition about the intentions and capabilities of the enemy.
Disclaimer: Now you have heard about the advantage of disruptive innovation or step-out innovation and decide that your organization should do “some of that.” But most organizations are designed to do something else very well. Namely, what they are already doing. You may have a brilliant vision, you may have identified the next great idea, but organizational routines, standard Key Performance Indicators and existing organizational structures will prevent proper execution: The company will will continue to do what they are already doing succesfully: ” a tiny bit better and a tiny bit cheaper?” See “Why Big Companies Can’t Innovate” by Maxell Wessel.
See also the video: Disruptive Innovation Explained by Clay Christensen.
According to Oxford University, 47% of jobs will disappear in the next 25 years. Could you think up which ones?
Take any profession (doctor, mechanic, teacher, nurse, etc) and/or any branch (consumer products, construction, finance, retail) and confront it in a matrix, one for one, with
- Artificial Intelligence
- Cloud based apps
- Blockchain technology
- 3D printers
- Virtual reality
Could you imagine what jobs will disappear as a result of (a combination) of new technologies?
If you take as working hypothesis that all intermediary jobs (bank employees, notaries, tax officers) will disappear, what jobs will likely cease to exist by 2040?
Why not check out the blog post The DIY of the Future for inspiration?
Have you noticed that in this blog the title of people who we refer to is not used? This is a conscious decision to make the reader evaluate the ideas rather than the person who is suggesting something.
Of course, this is a bit tricky since if you refer to a well-known person, everyone already knows all about the person. But the underlying idea is that readers should focus on the ideas rather than the person and what he or she has achieved so far in life.
A skilled thinker has developed the habit to always looking for positive, negative as well as interesting aspects with an idea. And a skilled thinker also knows that ideas are seldom perfect but can be used as a stepping stone to develop a better idea. Driven by curiosity there is a continuous search for interesting aspects.
In theory, ideas should be so powerful that regardless of the messenger or medium an idea can stand on its own and change the world. But in real life, great ideas are ignored and not evaluated. A famous person can suggest something mundane and still get lots of attention, while less famous people’s ideas are ignored. At a workplace, an idea suggested by a manager or team leader is regarded as great, but if an employee says the same thing it is ignored or regarded as moaning, non-constructive etc.
TED Talks have decided to create a platform of under-celebrated heroes. The talks are given anonymously. This is an opportunity for people who have the knowledge and the ideas but not the celebrity status to put forward their ideas. By not knowing who is suggesting something, you have to focus on the ideas and the message. Of course, this is something that we should do all the time.
Great ideas may also never reach a larger audience since a person may not like the spotlight or they may fear to lose their job or friends and loved ones. The chance to anonymously put forward your ideas and see if they can fly by themselves may encourage more people to give anonymous TED Talks.
The idea to let ideas speak for themselves is not new. The document Common Sense is a wonderful example. It was published anonymously during the American Revolution in 1776, written by Thomas Paine, it urged America colonists to declare independence from Great Britain.
What ideas would you like to share with the world – anonymously? What do you suggest to make life on Earth better?
And how do you practice on exploring the message and the idea rather than the person who suggested the idea?
P.S. What if we let the ideas in this blog stand for themselves and take away the name and the “About” page. How will you find our blog posts?
We came across a booklet that could be a good example for the kind of studies by the envisioned Thinkibility University. At its West Wing, scientists dissect the basic thinking patterns in a scientific discipline.
Siddhartha Mukherjee was asking himself: If there is a science of medicine, then science has laws. Physics has laws. Chemistry has laws. Biology has laws.
The simple question was: If that’s the case, then what are the laws of medicine? These were not meant to be universal commandments. These were meant to be explorations about principles that might hold true about medicine today and about medicine in the future. That was the framework for this book.
Law One : A strong intuition is much more powerful than a weak test.
Law Two: “Normals” teach us rules; “outliers” teach us laws
Law Three: For every perfect medical experiment, there is a perfect human bias
Watch or read here an interview with him about the book. You could also read the Ted book: The Laws of Medicine Field – Notes from an Uncertain Science
For us, Gijs and Asa, it is not the description of the laws of a scientific discipline that interests us – how interesting they are by itself but the possibility they give to escape from it. Once spelled out, laws are just vehicles to set up new approaches.
In short, at the West Wing of the Thinkibility University, they are thinking laterally about science.
We have earlier written about patterns in science and possible escapes from them in the following blogposts:
- Thinking Patterns in Science
- Patterns in Psychological Research
- Economical theory: Training in Economics is a Serious Handicap
Our next post about the topic “Patterns in Science” will be about Patterns in Law. Could it be that in Western law assumptions are hidden that hinders us in modern times?
Not to miss? Follow Thinkibility. The blog about Thinking, Creativity, Innovation and Design.