18 October 2005

Creativity Central

Too many people here talk about creativity as if it were a synonym for crazy. Without a doubt, creativity, when unleashed, exceeds the normal bounds of societal acceptance. Because it is "not normal," it is considered "crazy."

However, despite repeated assurances that We are all creative, most people refuse to believe it. These are often the same people who marvel at their children's creativity, not recognizing how natural such imaginitive thinking is.

For those of you who have forgotten how to be creative or have simply suppressed creative urges (some do so in response to Our miserably inept educational system), the following website is a starting point for recovering the tools you need to succeed.

Calling itself the "All Known Idea Generation Methods" website is a bit much, but it aims at a lofty goal. The list is more extensive than you'd expect, and yet less complete than The Jenius would like. (More on this below.)

Of the listed methods, the following are Jenius picks:

--Alternative Words: Use synonyms or antonyms to stimulate ideas. Perfect for those with a writer's mentality.

--Blocks and Barriers: Rather than creating a solution, just aim at obstacles and take them out. The Jenius uses a method called "Planning By Negatives" that is quite similar. Eli Goldratt uses "bottlenecks" as his concept.

--Brainstorming: The classic method of "group creativity." Used often, but The Jenius prefers individual brainstorming sessions that then bring the results together (somewhat indicated in "Brainstorming with Post-It Notes".)

--Break the Rules: At the risk of being facetious: Duh! "Concept Challenge" is just a fancier way of saying/doing the same thing.

--Mind Mapping: The Jenius is not a visual kind of guy, but this technique has served Him well. In fact, the current "cloud" of past and future Jenius posts is developed on FreeMind, a mind mapping utility that is--surprise!--free. You don't need FreeMind to mind map: a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil is all you need. Very effective method for sorting out ideas.

--Reversals: Better known as "Devil's Advocate". The Jenius has a friend, Roberto, who serves that function. Extremely useful technique often ruined by simply negative small thinkers who confuse "no can do" with "how to do". The Jenius calls them "Connies".

--Scenario Planning: A method only because the military made a fetish of it. Still, it's useful to create a story and play with variations on what could happen.

--Six Thinking Hats: Created by Edward de Bono, the method separates creativity into a system of 6 "viewpoints," each applied separately. Fascinating to learn, but The Jenius has never consciously used it. Could be perfect for elementary education.

Plenty of other methods are presented, but too many with little or no substance to them. It is a work in progress, but progress here should not take long.

In essence, the creative method The Jenius uses can be boiled down to three approaches:

1) "What if?": No boundaries, just what if?

2) The power of AND: The Jenius often refuses either/or in favor of and. Don't choose between two attractive options: do them both!

3) Think "simple elegance": Take it beyond normal limits. Then push it some more.

Use any method. You can be creative, a Genius even. But when it comes to creativity, it's like any other endeavor: You just have to do it.

Go for it!

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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