June 1, 2010

Serious Creativity by Edward De Bono

Serious Creativity using the power of Lateral Thinking to create new ideas - by Edward De Bono.

Book is about developing creating thinking ability and the book divided into three parts - The need for creativity, Techniques and methods & Application of creative thinking

Practical needs of creativity falls into two areas:

1. Where there is a real need for a new idea and we cannot proceed without a new idea. It may be a problem, a crisis or a conflict. Other approached have failed. Creativity is the only type.
2. Where there is no pressing need for a new idea but a new idea offers opportunity, advantage and benefits.

Creativity is very much involved in constructing a hypothesis. Hypothesis gives us a framework through which to look at the information so that we can begin to notice things we have not noticed. This hypothesis also gives us something to work towards - in proving it or disapproving it

Sources of Creativity:

1. Innocence
Innocence is the classic creativity of children. if you do not know the usual approach, the usual solution, the usual concepts involved, then you may come up with a fresh approach. Also, if you are not inhibited by knowing the constraints and knowing what cannot be done, then you are more free to suggest a novel approach.

2. Experience
The creativity of experience is essentially low-risk creativity and seeks to build upon and it repeat past success. Most commercial creativity is of this sort.

3. Motivation:
The creativity of motivation is very important because most people who are seen as being creative derive their creativity from this source. Motivation means willing to spend up to five hours a week trying to find a better way of doing something when other people perhaps spend five minutes a week. The simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity, even when no special creative talent is applied to the new focus.

4. Chance, Accident, mistakes & madness.
Cultures which rely heavily on group work (US, Italy for example) may be at a disadvantage in this regard. Countries like UK, Japan with its tradition of eccentric individuals working away in corners may have an advantage. Perhaps that is why M.I.T.I in Japan found that 51 % of the most significant concept breakthroughs of the 20th century had come from UK and 21% from US. in spite of much larger technical investment of US.

5. Style
Working within a style can give a stream of new products which are new because they all partake of the same new style.

6. Release
Release from fear and inhibitions is an important part of creativity and will produce some useful results.

Lateral Thinking: Seeking to solve problems by unorthodox or apparently illogical methods. This emphasizes the searching for different approaches and different ways of looking at things. With lateral thinking we more 'sideways try different perception, different concepts, different points of entry. Lateral thinking has very much to do with perception. In lateral thinking we seek to put forward different views. All are correct and all can coexist. The different views are not derived each from the other but are independently produced.

A rock has a fixed and permanent shape. Water fills the container , vessel or circumstances. Perception depends on context, experience, emotions point of view, frameworks and so on. Rock is static and rock logic is concerned with 'what us'. Water is fluid and water logic is concerned with ' what might be'.

Design and Analysis:

The traditions of western thinking are based on analysis and argument. The major thrust of western education is 'analysis'. Through analysis, we breakdown complex and unknown situations into bite-sized chunks that we can recognize and with which we can cope. With analysis we are interested in 'what is'. With deign we become interested in 'what could be'. There is a need for concepts and these concepts will not come simply from the synthesis of separate elements. It is for this reasons, that intellectually we are better at analysis rather than at design.

The use of Creative thinking.

1. Improvement:This is the biggest potential use of creative thinking. The western notion of 'improvement' has always been concerned with removing defects, overcoming problems, putting faults right. This is very much part of the general negative orientation of western thinking. The Japanese, unlike westerns, are able to look at something which seems perfect and then set about improving it. The Japanese notion of improvement is not limited to putting things right.

2. Problem solving: It has always been a traditional area for the use of creative thinking.

3. Value and Opportunity: the third use of creative thinking is directly involved in adding value, in creating value and in designing opportunities.

4. Future:

The lateral thinking tools and techniques.

1. Six Thinking hats: (famous book from the same author).

White hat: white hat has to do with data and information.
What info do we have here
What info is missing
What info would we like to have
How are we going to get the info

Red Hat: The red hat has to do with feelings and emotions

---putting on my red hat, this is what I feel about the project
---my gut-feeling is that it will not work
----I don't like the way this is being done
---my intuition tell me that prices will fall soon

Black Hat: black hat is caution hat (negative approach)
the regulation do not permit us to do that
-- we don't have production capacity to meet the order..

Yellow hat: yellow hat is for optimism and logical positive view of things
--this might work if we moved the production plant near to the customers
-- the benefit would come from repeat purchases.

Green hat: green hat for creative thinking, additional alternatives, new ideas, putting forward possibilities and hypotheses
we need some new idea here
can we do it in a different way

Blue hat: blue hat is for process-control; set agenda for thinking, suggest next step in the thinking, ask for other hats, ask for summaries, conclusions, and decisions..

2. Creative Pause
The main point of the pause is to give attention to something and to place that point in your mind as being worthy of attention. the value of the pause is not that it allows us to do things during that pause.

3. Challenge:
The usual western sequence is: attack and criticize, then set out to look for an alternative. The non-western sequence is: acknowledge the existing, seek positive alternatives and then compare the alternative with the existing method.

In the early 70s, the US auto makers started to make compact cars. the dealers did not like them and urged the makers to go back to full sized cars. Then came the second OPEC oil price rise. The makers were locked-into dealers and were reluctant to go back to the small cars. This left the field clear for the Japanese imports which established the foothold on which they have built.

With early typewriters the mechanical arms would jam if two letter were hit in too rapid a sequence. So the classic QWERTY keyboard was designed to 'slow down' typing. Today there is no jamming problem, but we are locked into the traditional keyboard because that is the way typist learned to type.

It is said that 70% of US health care costs are incurred in the last month of life. This is mainly due to expensive heroic medicine which does not provide any quality of life. But we dare not move away from the concept of 'staying alive at all costs".

The creative challenge also challenges 'continuity' where something is done in a certain way because it was done that was yesterday. this process of 'continuity analysis' looks at the following types of continuity.

a. The continuity of neglect: no one has bothered to think about it.
b. the continuity of lock-in: having to fit in with other matters
c. The continuity of complacency: repeated success protects from rethinking
d. The continuity of time-sequence: trapped by the sequence of our experience

4. Alternatives:
this is another of the fundamental process of lateral thinking. The very essence of creativity is the search for alternatives. It involved willingness to stop to look for alternatives when there is no apparent need to do so, to stop look for alternatives even when the next step is logical and available, the willingness to make an effort to find another alternatives instead of being satisfied with those that have been found.

5. Concept fan:
This is particularly useful for achievement thinking. 'How do we get there? Achievement thinking includes problem solving and task completion. The concept fan is an elaborated way of seeking alternatives by using concepts to 'cascade' further alternatives.

6. Concepts:
It is important to work at concept level.Concepts are expressed in broad, blurry, nonspecific ways.

7. Provocation and movement
Provocation and movement are needed in order to cut across patterns. With any provocation we need to use the active mental operation of movement in order to move forward to a new idea. Movements is an active operation and is not just a suspension of judgment.

In France, before the revolution the aristocracy traveled quickly on the left, forcing the peasantry over to the right. After the revolution aristocrats joined the peasants on the right. A keep right rule was introduced in Paris in 1794. Later Napoleon enforced the keep-right rule in all countries occupied by his armies, and the custom endured long after the empire was destroyed.

Following are other types of provocations.
a. Arising Provocations
b. Escape Provocations
c. Stepping Stone Provocations

Books refereed in this book by the same author:
The Six Thinking Hats
lateral Thinking