Five Moments to Creativity

September 26, 2007 at 10:01 am Leave a comment

If you’ve ever managed a production line, then you would be well acquainted with the concept of a ‘bottleneck’. For those that haven’t, here’s the concept in a nutshell; Assume process ‘A’ creates items for process ‘B’, and process ‘B’ can only handle five items per hour. There is no point in increasing the productivity level of process ‘A’ past five items per hour. Process ‘B’ is the bottleneck.

With that example in mind, let’s examine this thing called ‘Creativity’. I’d like to suggest the problem is not in a lack of new ideas, but an overly effective set of stage ‘B’ bottlenecks, that allow very little to escape from your mind and into the light of day.

Proof of that statement is as close as this evening’s dreams. All day we search for new ideas and come up dry… and yet the very instant we fall asleep and cease the mental struggle, our dreams are flooded with the fantastical. Our challenge is to find a way to tap into that Creativity with our eyes wide open.


Be conscious of your nose
Nope, not the nose in the middle of your face, but the ‘NO’s that arise every time you see, hear or read something different. As an example? Rather than numbering these points, I thought I’d use clock images. Why? I honestly don’t know… the idea was there and I thought I’d act on it.

Now that I have used the clocks it makes some sense. To be ‘conscious’ means to be aware of what’s going on around you, including the passage of time. If you’re saying to yourself… ‘using clocks is silly/stupid/(insert your favourite derogatory adjective here)’ then you’re not allowing a new idea a chance to grow.


Make your intuition visible
A very simple technique. Next time you cannot logically, rationally, choose between two alternatives A and B… Flip a coin… heads it’s A, tails it’s B… and then at the very instant when you see the result… are you pleased or disappointed with the outcome?

By focusing your attention to that split second of discovery, you’ll learn which choice you ‘prefer’… I’m not suggesting you follow that knowledge blindly… but at least you’ll have additional information with which to decide.


Put ‘Freudian’ slips to good use
We make slips, mistakes and typos all the time. A simple method of forcing yourself to think along a different track is to ask the question, “What would I have meant, if I’d meant to say that?”

I awoke one morning and reached out to get a ‘tooth pick’… and the words that echoed in my mind was ‘Truth Pick’… What if ‘Truth Pick’ was what I had meant to say?…’ I came up with this… A Short, pointed commentary designed to extract the ‘Truth” from a quote… you can download the results of that idle thought from


Look to the flipside
This is the old, yet still useful, chestnut of turning Lemons into Lemonade. It’s not really a bad strategy; it’s what’s used to keep bridges from falling down. Take the most powerful force working against you at the moment, gravity in the case of bridges, and get it working in your favour. Bridges don’t fall down, because we’ve learned to harness gravity and make it work for us to keep the bridge standing.

Admittedly the concept is simple enough, but making it happen takes determination and a significant amount of skill. But, when it works? Situations that once created problems – suddenly create profit.


Ask the child’s question… Why?
And keep asking it until there aren’t anymore answers. Of all the ‘Why?’ questions, the most powerful one you can bring to bear on your organization is “Why are we doing it this way?” Ask it until people run when you approach and scream at the sound of it, and then keep asking it. Unless there’s a good answer to that question, and “Because I said so!” is a terrible answer, then you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing.

The amount of Creativity you can bring to bear on a task, is more a function of the courage to work with the ideas you have, than it is of coming up with new ideas. The bottleneck is idea acceptance, not idea generation.


Entry filed under: creativity, innovation, Problem Solving.

Making Pigs Fly The Lies of Change

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