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06 July 2015

RVO:Creativity Mental Block #4: Be Practical

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

Human beings are the only animals with an ability to symbolize experience. This helps us in two ways. First, it enables us to anticipate the future, which helps us in planning for the future. Second, this helps us to generate ideas that has no correlates in the world of experience.

One of the ways to simulate our imaginations is to ask 'what if' questions. This helps us to simulate our imaginative capability.

The author discusses two specific 'what if' strategies.

One, imagine how others would do it. how would a famous person handle this problem? What assumptions would he bring in? How will they go about? What constraints would they ignore? What expertise would they add? What innovative changes would they make?

Two, imagine you are the idea. Suppose you are trying to improve the design of a washing machine. Imagine you are the machine. How will you feel when cloths are inserted in you? How will you feel when water is poured? when you tumble? when you spin?

Another way to simulate the imagination is to use 'stepping stones'. These are ideas that provoke us to think about other ideas. The author provides example of mixing gunpowder in paint, of adding seeds and fluorescent material in animal food, of trash cans paying money / telling jokes etc.

Given the benefit of using 'what if' thinking, the author provides three reasons why we do not use these more often.

One, when people look at a new idea, they focus on what is out of whack / logic. They tend to use negative words to describe the idea. As a tip author recommends that when we look at new ideas, we should look at their positive, interesting and potentially useful features. This will help you to generate 'stepping stone' ideas.

Two, the 'what if' approach is low-probability in character. It is unlikely that this tool will produce a practical, creative idea. It needs us to ask many 'what if'' questions before a practical idea can be generated. This makes people to skip 'what if' and focus on 'what is'.

The third reason for us not using 'what if' method is that we have not been taught to do that

While 'Be Practical' thinking is very important in the execution phase of an idea, 'what if' questions are the ones that generate the idea in the first place

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