Saturday, November 2, 2013

About How to Become More Creative and How to Make This World a Peaceful Place

Interview with Prof Edward de Bono, world's leading expert in creative thinking.

There are not many people who can be considered living legends, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out that famous Prof Edward de Bono, world’s most famous expert on creative thinking was visiting my town and was willing to meet me and give me a short interview for my creative thinking blog.

I have already met Prof de Bono many times in the past. I also attended his training program and became Parallel Thinking and Lateral Thinking trainer but we would always meet in the presence of other people and I have never had an opportunity to have this remarkable man all for myself. This time it would be different. This time Prof de Bono and I were to meet in the home of our mutual friend Mili and spend an afternoon together.

It was an unusually cold day for this time of the year, but the sun was shining through the huge living room windows of Mili’s apartment. Mili was a perfect hostess, she prepared our favourite blends of tea and soon we all felt warm and comfortable, especially Prof de Bono who could not refrain from telling jokes about the blonds (fortunately, Milli is a brunette).

Jokes are the most widespread manifestation of creative thinking because they use an unexpected point of view to create an interesting twist in the plot which, in the end, makes the story funny and original. Finally after much laughter, we came to the topic of creative thinking.

PG: You were among the first scientists who systematically explored mental processes and who proposed that thinking and creative skills can be developed and improved. Has the public sentiment changed since those early days? Is it still common thinking that creativity is a gift from god or do people realize that everybody can be trained to improve their thinking and creative potentials?

EdB: Creativity gets more attention today than it did when I started, but people still do think that it is a special gift that some people have and others can only envy. The idea that creativity is deliberate form of thinking that anyone can learn is not yet widely accepted.

PG: People often think that creativity is reserved for artists only and that people working in other professions cannot be equally creative. Artistic creativity is easily recognized but there is also another kind of creativity - idea creativity. How do we recognize and develop idea creativity?

EdB: Yes, people still do believe that creativity is only to do with art, but increasingly people in business and other places are talking about importance of creativity. We need to recognize that creativity is skill that can be developed through the use of lateral thinking and that anyone can develop the skill, but that not anyone can be equally proficient.

PG: In your work you have identified and developed several types of non-traditional thinking styles: parallel, lateral and perceptual thinking. Can you very briefly explain each of these thinking styles and where they can be best put to practice?

EdB: Parallel thinking is the use of six hats as six thinking modes to explore the subject. People thinking in parallel, using one mode at time is much more constructive and 10 times as fast as argument. It is now increasingly used in business. Lateral thinking is deliberate form of creativity based directly on the logic of patterning systems. There are tools and techniques based on this logic. Research has shown that most of mistakes in thinking are mistakes in perception and not logic. The CoRT program which I developed in schools is directly about perceptual thinking.

PG: Over the years teaching methods have improved, Internet and laptops have entered schoolrooms but has anything changed in teaching children how to think effectively?

EdB: To be sure Internet, laptops and other technology have changed education considerably. Unfortunately, because they provide information so easily, children start to believe that you don’t have to think; just you have to look for information.

PG: What the world would be like if ALL children were taught from the early age how to become better thinkers?

EdB: If all children were thought from early age how to become better thinkers, the world would be much more peaceful and constructive place. In Australia, Jennifer O’Sullivan showed that teaching thinking to deaf youngsters had a striking effect on their employment. Teaching thinking to prisoners reduces to 1/4 their chance to return to prison.

PG: Has there been any effort to institutionalize the teaching of your thinking skills, since they have such an amazing effect on lives of ordinary people?

EdB: At one time, the Government of Venezuela insisted that my thinking is thought in all schools. Unfortunately, there are not so many Governments that have good sense to do it. Education is usually in hands of the people who do not realize that thinking is the skill that can be thought.

PG: You read and write a lot, you are an active speaker and lecturer. How do you cherish your own creativity? What creative techniques do you use? What creative habits do you have?

EdB: Creativity is both an attitude and a number of formal skills. I am always seeking alternatives and different ways of doing things. I use the formal skills of lateral thinking from time to time.
By this time we were all feeling a bit peckish so we decided to visit a nearby restaurant which is the favourite place of actors and writers. There we talked about lots of interesting things: about Professor’s new books, his son Caspar who was dyslexic as a child and whom Professor taught thinking skills so he grew to become one of the directors of Financial Times and many other things about which I intend to write in the future articles.

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If you wish to further explore this topic, you can check out the selection of my favourite books about creative thinking.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Monotony Is Softly Killing My Creativity

You feel trapped in your daily routine. You are tired of doing the same things, meeting the same people, visiting the same places, listening to the same life stories... day in, day out. Eventually this dullness of your everyday reality starts to affect your creative thinking. Suddenly you realize that you have a new best friend - Monotony.

Pink paper gitaffe went hiking in the mountains
Pink Giraffe decided to battle monotony and went hiking in the mountains.
I know that what I am about to tell you will not offer big consolation, but there are times in our lives when we are all friends with Monotony. She is like those people who you do not meet for ages and then suddenly you start bumping into them everywhere you go. Sometimes it becomes so frustrating that you start to feel pursued. 

Monotony is defined as lack of variety. It is also manifested as uniformity in form or colour, or as sameness of tone, scenery, occupation, etc. Prolonged feeling of monotony can lead to depression and frustration with one's own life.

Monotony can influence your emotions and way of thinking in various ways but I am going to focus on its effect on creative thinking.

Monotony reinforces old mental connections that lead our thinking along standard thinking paths.
Result: Inability to create new and interesting ideas.

Monotony prevents our mind from noticing external stimuli which induce our mind to make new combinations and create new ideas.
Result: Creative block.

Long spells of monotony lead to constant boredom, depression, lethargy... states that drain oneself from life energy. 
Result: Lack of desire to create or to be creative - dormant creativity.

Good news is that monotony can easily be broken by making some simple changes in your everyday routine and by introducing some new activities into your life. Now, I am not an expert in curing monotony but I have compiled a list of the things that you can try out. These things are proven and they work for me and my friends.

Breaking the monotony at work

Redesign your working space: tidy, de-clutter, get new folders, mouse pad, table lamp, shelves, plants...
Change the way you go to your office: take a new route, change the means of transport (e.g. if you go by car, take a bus, train or bike), walk all the way or part of the way.
Make short breaks while working: go out for a coffee, sit in the park and listen to your favourite music, read a book.
Have a coffee break with the colleagues you do not normally go to breaks with.
Ask to join a new project, volunteer to help a co-worker, ask your boss to enroll you to a training course.

Breaking the monotony in marriage

Start dating your partner again.
Take 20 minutes every day to talk with your partner about all kinds of things (be present, do not just talk but listen as well).
Do things together with your partner: cook, exercise, take classes together...
Take the TV out of your bedroom.

Breaking the monotony in life in general

Be present. Spot and observe things happening. There are so many interesting things going on all around you that you miss noticing.
Exercise - walk, jog, swim...
Enjoy art - go to theatre, exhibition, museum...
Travel - go on a weekend trip, or one day trip or even an afternoon excursion to the countryside.
Learn new skills or language, sign in for an interesting course;
Spend more time with your friends, contact some friends you have not seen for ages and arrange to meet with them.
Meet new people: attend conferences, interesting events, new places...
Play with the kids (if you do not have kids of your own, you can borrow somebody else's), make toys together.
Do voluntary work, engage in a cause that makes sense to you.

The ultimate advice for annihilating monotony:

Start a personal project - dream, create new ideas, execute them, watch them become alive... Your new project may open new business opportunities for you or you may create a completely new lifestyle while pursuing your personal passions.

It is always hard to make the first step. If necessary force yourself to move on and do at least one thing from this list. You will feel instant relief and the more active you become, the less monotony you will feel.

This list is far from being complete - there are infinite ways in which you can make your life more interesting. If you have a suggestion of your own, feel free to contribute.

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If you wish to further explore this topic, you can check out the selection of my favourite books about creative thinking.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Synthesis of Knowledge

Recently I met a very successful businessman who is now my advertising client and he told me a story which nicely illustrated the power of creative thinking in business.

My client owns a big confectionery industry and he decided to extend his brand portfolio to high quality (no additives, no artificial flavours…) bruschette, but he encountered a problem. He needed a machine which would cut baked bread into bruschette but was not able to buy one because the machine producer had an exclusive contract with another company and would not sell the machine to the competing bruschette producer. My client did not get discouraged by this news and after a few days of thinking he got an idea. The most crucial part of the new bruschette machine, the one that made it special and difficult to get, was a set of rotating knives for cutting the bread into thin slices. Now, these knives reminded him of airplane propellers so he decided to contact an airplane engineer and ask for his help. The result: the prototype of a new machine is being developed and my team is preparing to launch a new buschette brand.

Pink paper giraffe in the back yard doing a scientific research!

Pink Giraffe sneaked into a back yard to do his research on synthesis!

No matter how good you are at something, sooner or later you will encounter a problem that you will not be able to solve using solely the knowledge from your own professional background (the solution to bruchette problem did not come from confectionery but from airplane industry). In fact, too much knowledge about something can sometimes hinder your thinking. It is a common truth that great experts often tend to be narrow-minded when confronted with new ideas – they rather stick to well determined truths and formulas so anything that goes beyond this learned logic is not regarded as relevant. In real life, sometimes people from completely different professions, even complete laymen can provide useful insights and ideas that solve problems and grow business.  

This brings us to an important element of creative thinking – synthesis of knowledge.

Synthesis of knowledge represents application of prior knowledge and skills to combine elements into a pattern not clearly there before. Synthesis is a major tool in creative thinking because it is directly responsible for the creation of major technological and scientific breakthroughs.

There are two ways in which you can use synthesis in your creative thinking: you can combine the knowledge and experiences that you have acquired during your life, or you can rely on the knowledge of other people and experts in different fields (interdisciplinary thinking).

Synthesis of self-acquired knowledge

Creative people are inquisitive by nature so it is very likely that as a creative person you have already gathered various experiences and learned different skills throughout your life. How often do you use these ‘other’ skills when dealing with your business problems? For example, a friend of mine who was once a successful basketball player told me that whenever he reaches the final phases in a particularly tough negotiations with his clients, he is reminded of the final minutes of an important basketball game. His experiences on the basketball pitch help him remain calm, concentrated and focused even in the situations when others would give up or give in and settle for less favourable negotiations outcome. When brainstorming for new ideas stay open to all kinds of knowledge that you possess: maybe your cooking, paragliding or singing skills will inspire you to find the solution to your business problem. To start your idea flow, you can ask yourself these questions: which things can I combine; what can I rearrange; what can I substitute in the project; is there an analogy with another process, what if…?

Synthesis of interdisciplinary knowledge

People learn throughout their entire life. No matter from how many schools you have graduated or how many books you have read, you will never be able to learn everything. Sometimes you will need help from other experts to move on with your project. This usually happens when, for example, your personal project reaches a scale where you need other experts to help you bring your business to the next level. The client that I mentioned in the beginning of the article, had never, ever, thought that one day he will have to work with the airplane engineer in order to produce a simple product like bruschette!

If you are working on a personal project and you cannot hire a professional interdisciplinary team, you can still count on your friends to help you. You can always gather them for a quick cup of coffee and discuss informally the ideas that you have. You will be surprised how many useful inputs you can get from the people whom you meet on daily basis and whose knowledge and opinions you sometimes take for granted.

To ignite your imagination I will invite you to try a simple and entertaining mind game. I will offer you a list of professionals different areas and a list of problems that you have to solve. Your task will be to choose a problem and then gather a team of experts who will help you complete the task. You will have to make a team of five experts and define an assignment or a role of each one of them in the team.

Invent a new type of pencil to write on all imaginable surfaces.
Make an instructional video about the importance of fibre rich diet.
Promote the use of bicycles as a means of everyday transport among school children.
Design sleep-friendly seats in the commuter trains.
Design a new taste for a potato chips brand.
Invent a skin cream for growing chest hair.
Design a new line of fashion shoes for small dogs.
Promote rooftop farming.
Introduce 4 day working week.

Sales person
Rocket scientist
Landscape architect
Lights systems engineer
Dance choreographer
Bus driver
Radio announcer
Shiatsu practitioner
Chemical engineer

Here is how I solved this task:

Make an instructional video about the importance of fibre-rich diet.

Baker - Consultant & one of protagonists in the video. Provides information about food and health aspects of fibre-rich food from his point of view. Provides recipes and prepares fibre-rich meals.
Chemical engineer - Consultant & one of protagonists in the video. Explains digestion processes and absorption of nutrients into our body system. Explains benefits of fibre rich-diet from his point of view.
Sky-diver - One of the protagonists in the video. Promotes fibre rich diet and explains how it helps him achieve great sports results.
Journalist - Writes script for the video.
Radio announcer - Provides voice-over for the video.

It is your turn now to choose one of the problems that I have offered (or you can choose a problem that you are facing in your real life) and make your own interdisciplinary team. Please share your suggestions with me. Anyway, I hope you will have lots of fun doing this thinking exercise.

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If you like this and previous posts you can subscribe here and receive my posts by e-mail, or if you prefer, you can subscribe for my RSS feeds.
If you wish to further explore this topic, you can check out the selection of my favourite books about creative thinking.

Key words for this blog post:
creative thinking synthesis of knowledge, creative thinking techniques, interdisciplinary thinking... 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Think Like a Detective and Solve Your Problems More Creatively

To me an idea often resembles a huge puzzle picture. At a first glance, it may appear whole and perfect, but when you take a closer look you will discover that it consists of small parts some of which are sometimes missing.

Photo by Walt Jabsco. Please visit Walt Jabsco' photostream. Thank you.

Those missing parts of the puzzle may sometimes be pieces of information, steps in the project execution which are not yet defined or small problems or issues that need further creative thinking.

Filling the gaps that keep us away from our ultimate goal can be tiresome and frustrating so many individuals lose patience along the way and many brilliant ideas never see the light of the day.

Instead of feeling discouraged, I suggest you take a look at your creative problem from another point of view. Think of your problem as a detective story, a murder mystery with many missing parts that you have to put together. Remember reading the stories or watching films about famous detectives like Hercules Poaro or Sherlock Holmes and the complicated murder cases that they always managed to solve. What is typical of them is that they did not have complicated technology to rely on, they simply used their own analytical and creative thinking when putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

So maybe if we adopt their way of thinking, we will be able to overcome the obstacles that we sometimes encounter in our creative thinking process. Let us take a look at how detectives think and what techniques they use in unravelling the truth.


Observation is the important part of learning process. Observation and repetition are the easiest ways of learning new things. Even animals learn through observation. However, we have to distinguish between looking at things and observing the things because most of the times we look but rarely do we bother to observe the world around us. Looking at things involves turning your eyes in some direction in order to see somebody or something. Observing means to watch and perceive something with attention and aim to analyze and learn about something. You need to take your time and pay particular attention to small details which are normally overlooked. In our everyday thinking we often tend to make assumptions based on obvious things which in the end lead us to obvious conclusions so we miss important insights that could influence our thinking and inspire us to think of new and unique ideas.

Use of logic

At the beginning of a creative process you will naturally need lots of information upon which you will later build your creative thinking. Sometimes it is easy to get the information you need, but sometimes you will have to search hard for the data in order to get the full picture of the subject that you are dealing with. So what happens when for some reason certain information is not available to you? In this case you should rely on your own knowledge and experience and search for logical answers to your questions. During this process you should dispose of the uncertain, unlikely and, of course, illogical, and try and discover the most probable answers.

Use of intuition

If logic does not help, you should rely on something more transcendental - your intuition. You have probably experienced many times that gut feeling in your stomach that warns you that something is not right, or the butterflies in the stomach which announce that something exciting is about to happen. How many times have you met a person that you just did not like for some unexplainable reason and you felt uncomfortable around him/her although he/she seemed perfectly nice and normal? Sometimes you simply know that something is so and if this feeling is too intense, than it should certainly be taken into consideration.


Curiosity is the major characteristic of all creative minds. It manifests through constant need to ask questions and look for answers. It drives people to discover and learn new things throughout their entire life. To be able to use curiosity to its full extent, you need to learn how to ask right questions. So use your logic and intuition, focus on the information you have gathered through research and observation and ask clever and relevant questions.

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If you wish to further explore this topic, you can check out the selection of my favourite books about creative thinking.

Key words for this blog post:
creative thinking, problem solving, think like a detective, observation, logic, intuition, curiosity, creative thinking technique...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Take a Break from Your Everyday Life (and Improve Your Creative Thinking)

Yeah I’ve heard the story so many times before. You feel trapped in your daily routine. The monotony of your life, the same old stupid things that you repeat day in and day out stifle your creative thinking. There are simply too many things you have to do, so many tasks to finish, goals to accomplish, you have no time to listen to your own thoughts, let alone spare time to engage in some creative activity.

Love locks in Prague
Love Locks - I discovered them during one of my creative walks by the banks of Vltava in Prague

What really happens is that you put everything and everyone else before your own emotional needs. And all the time you have this false feeling that you are doing good things for your career, your family, your community... while you are feeling dumb and unhappy inside. A strange notion that you are missing out on something important haunts you and leaves you physically, emotionally and creatively drained.

I am not pretending to be the wisest person in the world (I am obviously not) but I have a piece of advice that I wish to share here with you.

There is a very simple solution to your problem.

You do not need pills, no psycho-therapy, no expensive trips to spa resorts. In fact, the solution that I suggest may not cost you a cent! It is so simple, yet so powerful that it can add new quality to your life.

All you really need to feel normal and happy again is some time on your own – a simple time out from your everyday life!

You need a time out from everybody, including yourself; a time when you will put all the worries, duties, your everyday roles as parent, lover, professional, etc. behind and clear your mind from the usual thoughts that preoccupy it.

Make a vow to spend two hours every week alone with yourself. It can be some time during weekends, or during weekdays, if you find them more convenient. Decide upon a day in a week when you will free some time and spend it any way you like it. Cherish those two hours and do not let anyone, or anything, take them away from you. If two hours sounds too much at this point, at least start with one hour. You deserve it, do not feel guilty for having it.

If you decide to spend your creative hours in your home, you can find some peaceful spot where you can lounge undisturbed while sipping hot coffee and reading your favourite book. You can spend time working in your garden; or you can take a walk in the nearby park; or you can visit a city zoo. I personally prefer long walks by the river but I also enjoy going to toy shops. (Sometimes I buy a toy for myself.) You can also go to the movies (forget about DVD’s for a moment), or visit art galleries. You can explore a local bookstore, or go to a matinee concert. If you are a sporty type, you can take fast walks, buy a monthly ticket for a swimming pool or take dancing classes. There are hundreds of ways in which you can spend the time with yourself doing things that you enjoy.

If you still doubt that this is a good idea and think that there are more important things in life than idling, you are terribly wrong.

Most of your duties are self-imposed. Things that you do in your spare time, like reading just another report or going through your e-mails again and again, cleaning your house, cooking meals for your family, preparing your kids for school... are the duties that can sometimes prevent you from exploring and looking after your own emotional needs. Sure, these are all important tasks which have to be done but why do YOU always have to do them? Is there somebody who can jump in and take over some of these responsibilities from you? The world is not going to end if you postpone laundry washing for tomorrow and instead do something you enjoy doing. Everybody deserves a time out, so do you!

Sometimes people avoid spending time on their own because they are afraid of their own thoughts and emotions. They would rather watch stupid shows on the TV, read glossy magazines and daydream about the things they will never be able to afford or meet with friends and discuss the same old topics over and over again.

Most of us would rather stay focused on the external things and events, rather than on what is really going on in our mind. Painful as it may be this look inside can also be very liberating.

Time out of your daily routine will help you recharge your physical and emotional energy. You will prove to you that you care for yourself and respect the person that you are. You will feel more alive. You will open your creative chakras and let inspiration flow through your entire being.

Relaxed mind is opened to new sensations, images, sounds, smells... Only in such a state it is able to make new mental connections and create new ideas. In the moments of relaxation you are most likely to experience the ‘a-ha! effect’, a sudden blast of light which announces the birth of a new idea. Neuro-science has proved the connection between relaxation and meditation and creative thinking.

So, enjoy the time with yourself and remember this rule: during your creative hours you have the permission to be adventurous, silly, entertaining, inspired... Do not judge yourself and do not let others judge you. Just dip in and enjoy every second of it.

I will love you forever for sharing this article on Facebook or Twitter.

If you like this and previous posts you can subscribe here and receive my posts by e-mail, or if you prefer, you can subscribe for my RSS feeds.
If you wish to further explore this topic, you can check out the selection of my favourite books about creative thinking.

Key words for this blog post:
creative thinking, finding inspiration, overcoming creative blocks...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Creative Stone

Creative people sometimes get so deeply stuck with their lack of inspiration that no ordinary methods for overcoming creative blocks can help. Sometimes, a little help from above is needed, some creative mojo that will magically unblock their thinking and make their creative juices flow. In this game that the creative people have to play on their own, any method can serve the purpose as long as the final goal of being able to create again is achieved.

Creative Stone (Fluorite)
My Creative Stone (Fluorite)
Writing, just like any other activity requires constant work and practice. During the past few months I was working on the projects that separated me from my creative thinking blog so much that at one point I felt I completely lost touch with it. When I finally sat down to write, I felt drained out of inspiration and it was hard for me to focus on my posts. The activity that once was pleasurable suddenly became extremely difficult and hard to accomplish.

Something had to be done. I did not feel depressed, I did not become panicky, I new that I simply fell out of practice. If you stop jogging for several months, you cannot expect to run a marathon the first time you step back on the running track.

I was at peace because I know these three truths about creativity:

1. Universe is full of fresh ideas

Just look at the beauty and the perfection of Nature’s work. Think of all those brilliant ideas that make up the world around us. Where did all those ideas come from? Who provided that abundance of forms, colours, mechanisms... and who made them fit together so perfectly? The answer is simple: Universe.

2. Ideas are available to everyone

Some people easily recognize and use ideas, others just let them fly past them. Some find inspiration in everything that they do, others have to try hard to think of new ideas. To most people ideas come randomly and unexpectedly, but some people are able to search and find specific ideas just when they most need them. Ideas are everywhere around us, all one has to do is reach out and grab them.

3. I can have ideas whenever I need them

There are so many things which can block my connection to the Universe and the ideas it holds in store for me, like stress, physical exhaustion, all kinds of distractions, strong emotions... If I can learn how to overcome those blocks, I will be able to create freely and abundantly.

Although I knew all this, I still needed an extra something to help me get new ideas, a device that will channel creative energy from the Universe directly to my work. I needed a radio which would catch creative frequencies and broadcast fresh ideas for me.

I though what could that be. What thing has such powers to become my source of infinite inspiration? I new that it had to be a simple, everyday object that can be easily found and carried around. Then it dawned on me. I needed a stone with special powers, a stone which will attract creative energies from the Universe and store them for me so that I can use them whenever I wanted. With such a stone in my possession, I will never run out of inspiration!

Creative Stone (Fluorite)
Always keep your creative mojo with you!
So I went on a quest to find my own, my one and unique Creative Stone. 

First I went through the collection of stones that I had compiled during my summer holidays. Many of them were marvellously looking but somehow unfit for the purpose. I needed not only a beautiful, but also a mysterious stone - because Universe works in mysterious ways. I realised that I needed a little less ordinary stone, I needed a crystal.

I decided to look for it in shops specialised in selling stones and crystals.

The first shop that I visited offered a vide variety of stones and crystals in different shapes and sizes. The shop assistant was eager to help me find the stone I needed, but I decided not to be the one who will choose the stone. Instead, I wanted to let the stone choose me. I searched through the shelves that contained big, colourful stones displayed on them. I dipped my fingers in wooden boxes containing small gems. I held them in my hand, marvelled at the reflections of light that they produced... but somehow, not one of the stones that I picked up convinced me that it was THE Creative Stone.

The next day I visited another shop and had pretty much the same experience. There were so many different stones of various shapes, cuts and sizes but none of them attracted me enough. Just when I thought of giving up, my eyes caught sight of a small, egg-shaped stone displayed on one of the shelves. It was purple, striped with smoke-like structures that gave it depth and reflected light in such a way that you had a feeling that it contained clouds of star dust inside. The moment I saw it, I new that I had found my Creative Stone.

The stone I chose was a fluorite. Later that day I searched the Internet for more information about it and I found some interesting facts that only proved that indeed I did not choose the stone - the stone choose me.

The name fluorite was derived from the Latin verb ’to flow’ (Remember, I needed the stone to stream my creative energy!). It is believed that fluorite increases our powers of concentration and self-confidence (Hmmm, writers need lots of concentration and self-confidence!). It encourages positivity, helps in decision making, improves physical and mental balance and coordination (Some positivity and balance will also come in handy!). One website even wrote: ’Purple Fluorite increases mystic visions and aids spiritual balance.  It helps the intuition to connect to the rational mind.’ (Ha, just how good is that!) Fluorite is the stone of the Pisces (Can you guess my Zodiac sign?) and purple fluorite is the stone of the third eye Chakra (Wow!). Fluorite is fluorescent under ultraviolet light (UV) and thermo luminescent – it glows when heated.
Creative Stone (Fluorite)
My Creative Stone (Fluorite)
My Creative Stone is small in size but great in powers. I always keep it on my desk whenever I write and I never seem to run out of ideas. It is small enough to fit my pocket, so I carry it around with me to accompany me on my creative journeys.

You can also look for your own creative helper. It need not be a stone, it can be any other object containing special powers that only you can recognize. My very good friend Divna, philosopher and writer, has a small Troll doll which she always carries with her. This Troll is her creative friend who always jumps in and whispers new ideas in her ear whenever she needs some inspiration.

So be imaginative, look around you, and search for interesting objects that can become a source of your inspiration. It can be a hairpin that you made when you were a small girl, a toy, a dry leaf with beautiful and inspiring colours or a sea shell that you picked up from the sea bed the last time you went on a vacation.

Creative people are playful, they like to daydream and they recognize hidden meanings in objects and events around them. Allow yourself to be wacky and eccentric and use any tool available that can boost your creative thinking and help you grow your creative powers.

I will love you forever for sharing this article on Facebook or Twitter.

If you like this and previous posts you can subscribe here and receive my posts by e-mail, or if you prefer, you can subscribe for my RSS feeds.
If you wish to further explore this topic, you can check out the selection of my favourite books about creative thinking.

Key words for this blog post:
creative thinking, overcoming creative block, lack of inspiration, creative mojo, crystals... 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Problem Solving – Choosing the Best Strategy by Using Creative Thinking

You have a problem! You are not alone. Everybody has problems. Life is a continuous series of problems. The good thing is that every problem has a solution, though it may not be very obvious from the start, or easy to achieve. This is why problem solving can turn out to be such a puzzling and frustrating process. I will share with you two creative thinking techniques that should help you tackle your situation and open the roads towards reaching your desired goals.

Photo by woodleywonderworks. Please visit woodleywonderworks' photostream. Thank you.
Today we are going to write scenarios of futures.

According to the dictionary, ’a scenario is an imagined or projected sequence of events, especially any of several detailed plans or possibilities’. Scenarios are very useful creative tool because they can offer an insight into potential situations and environments that you may encounter while solving a particular problem. They can also indicate which environmental factors to monitor over time, so should the environment change, you can recognize where it may be heading. You do not need to be a skilled script writer to be able to write future scenarios. You just need to gather as much information possible about the problem and its potential solutions and then use your experience and imagination to create your own versions of future events. Good thing about writing scenarios is that they are less risky than standard action plans and more flexible because they do not rely on standard business forecasts and trend analyses. The best thing about this problem solving technique is that you can use scenarios in business - when deciding upon future strategies, but also in your personal life - to help you define your life goals and the paths towards their realisation.

Alternative Scenarios

To be able to write alternative scenarios you will need to identify major environmental factors that might influence the future, and consequently, the choice which problem solving idea to implement. These factors can be different forces, drivers, trends, limits... that could influence the conditions for the implementation of a particular idea or strategy. Then, you should develop four scenarios based on the principal factors, including the most important and most uncertain factors (those completely outside of your control). These four scenarios are:

Status Quo Scenario – a future in which current key conditions persist (e.g. legislation, social trends, cultural complexity, economic conditions...);
Sustainable Scenario – a resource-based or values-based scenario, the one that takes into consideration most preferable cultural trends and values;
Disaster Scenario – the one in which at least some conditions change for the worse, or some critical system fails;
Evolutionary Scenario – as opposition to Status Quo Scenario – the one comprising new values, new thinking, new social and cultural conditions (i.e. breaking away with the tradition, current patterns...)

Life is unpredictable and no matter how clever and creative we might be, it is likely to surprise us with unsuspected circumstances. It is possible that several, even all four scenarios occur in some form in the future. Also, certain issues and predictions from different scenarios might combine and become a part of our reality. With these four scenarios in hand, we will have a rich set of alternative futures and possible actions that we can execute according to a chosen scenario, or we can combine them depending on the current environmental conditions.

Alternative scenarios can also be developed as personal life scripts exploring different futures that might happen to you:

Status Quo Scenario – I live my life as it is; I am happy with where I am right now; my lifestyle, values, interests will not change significantly;
Sustainable Scenario – I am ready to change and accept the values, conditions, trends... that the modern society will impose on me;
Disaster Scenario – my life might turn ugly due to some personal, economic... problems that I might encounter;
Evolutionary Scenario – I am the master of my own future. I create my reality. I will live a new life and break all the ties that connect me to the Old Me.

Choose your future, voilà!

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Perfect Scenario

This time you are required to think of the situation where all your problems are solved and you have reached your desired goal. Write down a detailed description of the perfect situation for your business, project or your personal life. Use as many details as you can think of - make your vision as vivid as if it would appear before you the very next time you blinked your eyes.

By visualising the perfect future you will block negative thinking and motivate your mind to think creatively about the possible problem solutions. Besides, by thinking about the (distant) future you will be less burdened with the immediate obstacles that normally tend to block your creative thinking. The process of writing the perfect script will reveal to you numerous important factors that constitute your idea. By modifying the constituent parts of the idea you will later be able to make it more feasible so that even if it turns out to be less perfect, the end result will still be very satisfying.

In the following days return frequently to your Perfect Scenario and write down all the actions you need to undertake in order to achieve the desired future. Allow yourself several days to come up with the most comprehensive list of actions and ideas for their execution. List all the actions and ideas chronologically, from the present day to the desired future. If it is a complex project with the overlapping steps, or if there are certain actions that require more time and resources to execute, draw a table chart to help you distribute the actions chronologically. Start executing those actions. What are the things that you can do this month to get closer to your goal? What are the things that you can do this week? Today? Right now?

Problem solving requires lots of courage and energy, but if you make a good strategy and divide your final goal into many small tasks that are easy to accomplish, with every new task finished, you will be one step closer to your goal.  

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Key words for this blog post:
creative thinking, problem solving, creative thinking technique, scenario writing, script writing, life scripts...

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