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Learn Some Powerful Creative Thinking Techniques

When facing a challenge or solving a problem, do you flex your approach as required or do you fall back on your usual, tried and tested techniques?

You may be thinking ‘What’s the point of thinking differently?’ when you know what works for you, but please bear with me while I share some of creative thinking techniques.

Being logical is good for certain kinds of problem solving, but many situations call for something a bit different: creative insight and diverse thinking. In these situations, lots of answers could be possible and it’s helpful to keep our minds (and options) open to possibilities instead of zeroing in on just one possible option.

When it comes to creative thinking, it’s important to be comfortable with risk, confusion and fluidity. We also need to be inclusive, and welcome the contributions of others.

Other people often don’t think the same way as us, but that doesn’t mean that they are wrong and we are right. It just means that we bring different perspectives and have different approaches. What’s more, if we are open to a different approach, we might end up with a better result.

Doing it Like Disney, Creatively

Robert Dilts is credited with creating an approach to problem-solving, creativity and innovation at Disney back in the early 1990s that they still use today. Similar to Edward De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats, he proposed looking at a problem through three lenses: The Dreamer, The Realist and The Critic.

The idea is that a team, or even an individual, interrogates the problem together from each of these perspectives in this specific order, with everyone thinking in the same direction at the same time. This allows us to consider different views with open-minds and to refine possible solutions.

Sign up here to join our webinar on Tuesday 23rd July (10 – 11 am) to Learn How to Think Outside the Box.

Less is More – Colin Powell’s 40/70 Rule

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Colin Powell’s 40/70 Rule

Colin Powell is said to have had a rule of thumb about making tough decisions that I feel is helpful, particularly if we’re under pressure. His rule was that when facing a tough decision you should have no less than forty percent and no more than seventy percent of the information you need to make the decision.

If you make a decision with less than forty percent of the information you need, you don’t have enough and you will make too many mistakes. The second part of the rule is perhaps more surprising. We often think that we need more than seventy percent of the information before we can make a decision. But if you get more than seventy percent of the information you need to make the decision then the opportunity has usually passed and someone else has beaten you to the punch!

A key element that supports Powell’s rule is the belief that intuition is what separates the great leaders from the average ones. Intuition is what allows us to make tough decisions well, but many of us ignore our gut. We want certainty that we are making the right decision, but that is not possible.

In my experience, people who want certainty in their decisions end up working for other people, not leading. So, the next time you have a tough decision to make, try out the 40/70 rule, get just enough information to make an informed decision and then trust your gut. You’ll be glad you did.

The Answer is Simply ‘Occam’s Razor’

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Occam’s Razor – Choose the Simple Solution

If you’re under pressure, in a hurry or if you’ve tried several things but none of them work, then there’s always Occam’s Razor.

Occam’s Razor is the theory that if there are two likely answers, the answer which makes the least assumptions is the correct one. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘the simplest answer is usually correct’.

This is a bit of a quick and dirty method, but it has been an effective and successful tool since William of Ockham is credited with first introducing it in the 12th Century!

Yes, Creativity Can Be Learnt

If you have a problem to solve, start by doing some personal brainstorming. Contrary to popular opinion, many of the best ideas come from brainstorming on your own. So, start with personal brainstorming.

Learn to harness the power of your right brain. Generate seed ideas. Leave them in your head for your right brain to process overnight.

How often have you gone to sleep with a problem and woken in the morning with the now obvious solution?

Get your team involved and use a powerful creative thinking process like Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, then apply Colin Powell’s 40/70 Rule and Occam’s Razor.

Western thinking is too full of criticism. Our cultures, schools and big organisations breed analysis and negativity. Good ideas hate environments where there’s criticism, narrow-mindedness or personal attacks.

“The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain.” (Colin Wilson)

And, a final piece of advice from Tim Ferriss:

“Exact numbers aren’t needed to realize that we spend too much time with those who poison us with pessimism, sloth, and low expectations of themselves and the world. It is often the case that you have to fire certain friends or retire from particular social circles to have the life you want….”

So, surround yourselves with positive people!

Why don’t you book an informal meeting to learn more about these powerful creative thinking techniques? We call it Future Proof Creativity.