September 21, 2006

What is creativity and how we can be creative? De Bono at SETT

I like De Bono's idea of creativity. The brain seems hardwired for certainty, setting things out in linear, one way patterns. But this is not creative thinking. The brain needs taught how to think out of this linear, one way pattern. It needs to think, literally, out of the box. Knowing in hindsight just means your brain isn't thinking creatively at the moment, it's thinking logically. With lateral thinking we are always logical in hindsight, and traditional scholars have seen this as a means of explaining that all things must be achievable through logic.

This is not true in a changing world (and the world has always been changing, not just because of all this Live Web stuff ;-)

So how can we train our minds?

We often see a route to a solution through a challenge. Start challenging things. Oil is drilled vertically in a logical world. De Bono suggested doing it sideways. Now all oil drilling goes down then sideways, to capture 3 to 6 times more oil. Challenge things. Find a way. Don't just say: "it can't be done".

In London there are only 14,000 taxis - very few. So what do we take for granted: taxi drivers know the way. PO (Provocation): Taxi drivers don't know the way. So you ask to go to Marble Arch and the cabbie doesn't know the way. What are the possibilities:

  • Get another driver
  • May ask the way
  • May use an atlas
  • May ask you how to get there
    • But what if I'm a tourist (Black Hat intervenes)
  • You have two taxis: one for tourists, a normal one, and one for residents (with a big question mark on the side). These question mark cabs rely on the new drivers with no knowledge to get the knowledge from the customer in the back. When they are better at finding their way they move up to the normal tourist cabs. We all have more taxis. Excellent.

Use word association to think differently about a problem. More on this later if people don't get it.

Update: DigitalKatie has got some of the stats that exemplify why all this stuff can work.


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I'm working with children in my classroom who have an persavive development disorder. With these children we as a teacher have to think differently as with other children.
I think it is important to think differently in special needs education.

I thought this a very interesting style of presentation. At one point I stopped listening to him, just so I could watch him. Bit different to the powerpoint approach!

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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