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05 July 2015

RVO:Creativity Mental Block #3: Follow the rules

This post is a continuation of THIS POST. Please read it before you read this post 

"Every act of creation is first an act of destruction." ----- Picasso

Pattern thinking is the first example of our rule based thinking. Patterns help us to understand the new information based on our past experiences. Patterns can be sequences (buds turn to flowers), cycles (monsoon appear every year from June to September), shapes, similarities and probabilities. The problem with pattern thinking is that they affect the way in which we think.

People follow three strategies to solve problems.
  • Backtracking: Start with one plan of action. If it fails, come back and start again with a new plan.
  • Working Backwards: First identify the end objective and plan backwards.
  • Break the rules: There are many examples of this in history. Alexander cutting the Gordon Knot, Einstein equating mass and energy, Catholic priests inserting spaces between written words thus changing 'reading by the ear' to 'reading with the eye'. The list is endless
While following the rules have their benefits, it can become a mental block if it means 'Think about things only as they are'.

There are two reasons why rules should be challenged. One is that they make us get locked on to one approach or strategy. The other is that the basic reason for having that rule in the first place would have undergone changes.

Von Oech recommends the following two approaches. one, 'do not fall in love with your ideas' and two, go after 'your sacred cows'. Sacred cows are those rules and ideas and beliefs that everyone take for granted.

In conclusion, the author talks about the 'Thuban phenomenon'. It woks as follows.
  • You have a guiding star. It could be an idea, a belief or philosophy that guides your thoughts and actions
  • You change. you develop new interests, meet new people. You find new guiding stars
  • Things continue to change in a cyclical way. The former 'Guiding Star' takes a dominant position in our mind and thinking.
The implications for creating thinking is that sometimes one has to look at past ideas, rules, solutions and inspiration to resolve current problems

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