Unleash Your Inner Genius
Ten Great Ways to Boost Your Personal Creativity
by Paul Sloane
Let's say you are wrestling with a tough issue - maybe at work, at home,
with your children or in your social life. You have been stuck for a while
and you can't seem to make a breakthrough. You want to come up with some really
creative ideas. What can you do? Here are ten great practical ways to boost
your inventiveness and to crack the problem:
- Ask why, why? Ask, 'why has this issue arisen?' Come up with six different
reasons and for each of them ask, 'why did this happen?' Keep asking why
for each cause. This helps you to better understand the different reasons
why this is a problem and so in turn you will see different possible solutions.
- Sleep on it. Ponder the issue and all its aspects for some time and
then put it out of your mind. Get a good night's sleep. The subconscious
mind goes to work and often you come up with great ideas the next day.
- Talk it over with someone who has nothing to do with the situation.
They will often ask basic questions or make seemingly silly suggestions
that prompt good ideas. Two heads are better than one but people who are
too close to the issue will often come up with the same ideas as you, so
try an outsider.
- Ask how some celebrity would tackle the issue - what would Steve Jobs
do? Or Bob Geldof , or Richard Branson, or Salvador Dali or Margaret Thatcher
or Madonna or Sherlock Holmes? Take each individual's approach to its extremes
and it will likely give you some radical solutions.
- Pick up any object at random and say to yourself, 'this item contains
the key to solving the problem.' Then force some ideas. Try this with several
different objects and you will have a selection of radical and inventive
- Use similes. Try to think of a different problem in another walk of
life that is like your problem. Say you want your staff at work to try new
ways of working. You might imagine that this is like getting your children
to eat vegetables. List various methods you might use with your children
to encourage or persuade them to try vegetables. Then go through the list
and then see if any of the ideas can be converted into things you can try
- Imagine an ideal solution in a world where there are no constraints
-e.g. you can use any resource you want. Now work back from that ideal and
challenge each of the constraints that is holding you back from achieving
it. Many of the obstacles can be overcome when you take this approach.
- Open a dictionary and take any noun at random. Write down six attributes
of that noun - so for tree you might write - root, branch, family, apple,
trunk and tall. Then force some links between the word or its attributes
and the problem in order to come up with fresh ideas. You will be surprised
at how well this works - for individuals or in a group.
- Ponder the issue and then go for a walk around an art gallery or museum.
The range of external stimuli will help you conceive plenty of new ideas.
- Draw a picture of the situation showing the people and the issues in
simple cartoon style. Put it up on the wall and then imagine how the story
could develop. Think of it as a cartoon strip. Many people's brains work
better in images than in words or numbers so this can lead to fantastic
These methods work for individuals and for groups. Try them and see what
suits you best. Above all keep reminding yourself - there are some great solutions
for my problem - I haven't found the right one yet but I will!
Paul Sloane helps organizations improve innovation. He gives talks and facilitates
meetings. He is the author of Lateral Thinking Puzzlers published by
Sterling and the Leader's Guide to Lateral Thinking Skills published
by Kogan Page. Visit www.destination-innovation.com
for additional information.
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