Creative Thinking Technique: How to exercise the right brain?

 In Idea Generation

Creativity and innovation! Many people get confused with a fact that these two terms are independently correlated with one another. Creativity is the generation of ingenious ideas whereas innovation is an implementation of those ideas resulting in a product or service.

Where creativity needs one mind to place the idea in, innovation requires the combined effort of a team. A creative idea needs a platform with challenges to resolve whereas innovation is resolving challenges using that idea.

Our brain is divided into two sides- left and right. Left part handles logical, analysis and reasoning stuff whereas right brain accounts for the creative and intuitive aspects.  If the soil of our right brain is enough fertile, the seed of creativity can grow and flourish.

Further, the role of creativity and innovation in R&D can’t be stressed enough. In fact, R&D is synonymous with creativity and innovation. This makes it imperative for an R&D leadership to make sure that their team members and subordinates are flexing their creative muscles regularly.

Now the question is how to make the soil fertile? Below are four manures we would like to suggest:

  1. Lateral Thinking
  2. Forced connections
  3. Metaphorical Thinking
  4. Alphabetized Adventure

Lateral thinking

If you haven’t heard of Edward de Bono or of Lateral Thinking, perhaps you have been too busy thinking in conventional ways.
– Forbes Magazine

The human brain is designed to figure out patterns and then lock them as an automatic response. These automatic responses are then triggered by our subconscious brain. Doing this helps remove cognitive load from our conscious brain so that it can focus on other new tasks and information.

This natural tendency of the human brain – to find and lock patterns, comes with a price of creativity. Lateral thinking is a strategy to break free from these patterns and to be creative on demand. Lateral Thinking, as per Dr. Edward de Bono, is disruption of a usual thinking sequence and finding a solution by using a different angle.

Among many, one way to train your brain to think laterally is by warming it up using Lateral Thinking Puzzles. These puzzles give insufficient information to a solver to arrive at a solution and teach a solver to question his assumption, to have an open mind, and compel to think creatively.

Below is best of the genre puzzle, The Man in the Bar, for you:

A man walks into a bar and asks the barman for a glass of water. The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says ‘Thank you’ and walks out.

Try to solve these one too:

  • A man and his son are in a car accident. The father dies on the scene, but the child is rushed to the hospital. When he arrives the surgeon says, “I can’t operate on this boy, he is my son!” How can this be?
  • A man is wearing black. Black shoes, socks, trousers, coat, gloves and ski mask. He is walking down a back street with all the street lamps off. A black car is coming towards him with its light off but somehow manages to stop in time. How did the driver see the man?
  • This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so plain you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is unusual though. Study it, and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out.

Metaphorical Thinking

A powerful idea generating technique that lets you solve a complex problem by comparing it to a priory solved similar one. It is a creative thinking toolkit which has been used globally. It takes the users on a ride of imagination where logic alone was leading nowhere.

A Greek philosopher, Aristotle referred people who are able to use this tool successfully as the ones with special gifts as not everyone can grasp the tiny overlap of two distinct things. He marked this technique as a sign of genius. So, if you think you can do this, you’re Aristotle’s champion.

Here are few examples of metaphors:

Problem                                                                                                              Metaphor

How to train a new hire?                                                            How to teach a kid to walk?

How to increase revenue?                                                         How to grow bigger pumpkins?

How to keep hacking at bay?                                                    How to protect queen from an enemy?

Forced Connections

Forced connection taps your brain’s ability to relate two or more entirely dissimilar entities with each other. It forces people to come up with a solution using an external trigger they receive using the relation and the problem they’re stuck at.

How to use forced association:

  1. Pick a random name, word, object or an idea.
  2. Come up with any 10 properties related to it. Whatever comes to your mind by thinking of it.
  3. Imagine any three aspects of property which associate it with your current problem.
  4. Repeat

There comes a point in every brainstorming session where you wish to break down the silence created by a concern which has bamboozled the rest. For those whose pupils just got broadened – forced connection could have acted like an angel guardian at that time.

We have written an in-depth article on Forced Association. You can read it here: Using Forced Association to solve problems

Alphabetized Adventure

Ideas illuminate when you focus on meeting a challenge by going on a walk with your out of the box imagination. This walk is what people usually confuse with words like “born-genius”. But teaching everything about idea generation would be a little time-consuming.

So, how about having a quick “Alphabetized Adventure sprint” with us? This is one technique we’ve been learning since childhood. This is the exercise that compels your mind to think about stuff in a very different style. To exercise this, you have to pick a word, could be anything, from anywhere.

Say you came up with SNAKE. Start building words using the same alphabets of SNAKE as KANES or ENAKS.

Practice this exercise for 10 minutes a day while brushing your teeth or eating your sandwiches and at least 5 times a week. After a time, you will realize that your solutions are way different than others. Why? Because this exercise slowly trains your brain to look at things from a different angle. You become, with time, good at looking at the pattern which others may miss.

Conclusion

Only a selected few among us are born creative. But all of us are capable enough to go after becoming one. Creative thinking is a skill and like other skills, it can be acquired and implemented. All you need is a desire and some good creative thinking tools at your disposal.

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