Generating ideas by challenging the conventional wisdom by Suf Alkhaldi

As my fascination grew using creativity, I believe lateral thinking enriched my life, creating a lot of fun. Thinking laterally tricks my mind in a beautiful way. It takes my mind away from the road frequently traveled.  It develops new neurocircuits, bypassing the normal old way of thinking.  Discomfort will happen, I am sure,  but by practicing the method you would notice the fun associated with the exercise.  I once developed a game with my boy when he was four years old by challenging him to give 10 use of anything I tell him. For example, give me ten use of a pencil.  Give me ten use of book.  When you try to veer away from the normal path of using a pencil or a book, we trick our mind to create new thoughts. As you imagined, lateral thinking generates more possibilities laterally using structured method similar to six thinking hats.

The power of choice

Challenging the conventional wisdom
Challenging the conventional wisdom

Dr. De Bono dives deeper into  lateral thinking  by creating mnemonic tools to produce ideas or solutions: Alternatives, Possibilities, and Choices (APC).  When you use this method, you expand the alternatives from obvious solution.  To succeed using this tool, alternative possibilities with sharp specificity explore new explanations.  You are trying, Let’s say, to change a light bulb.  Are you looking for an alternative to a light bulb or an alternative to a ladder to change the light bulb? It is much easier for us to find an alternative to a ladder than creative alternative to light bulb.  I used this exercise with my son — he was four years old. It is much better, he said,  to have long arms to change the light bulb; what a great idea. This boy did not know some tools to change the light bulb without a ladder were in hardware stores already. When you create impossible alternatives, you generate wide varieties of possibilities to find the best choice- you cannot have longer arms after all! I love this exercise: it provides an easy way to remember and apply the tool while you are away from work: APC. I use this tool while I am taking a walk or exercising in the gym. Dr.  De Bono mentioned this tool in several books: moving parallel to find more choices is much better than moving forward in thinking.

 The scanning tool

Horizon scanning tools helps to generate warning signs and possibilities. It forces our thinking to explore the situation before we judge or decide what the solution using Plus, Minus, and Interesting (PMI) . The order in using this tool is important.  Pluses should start first, then move to Minuses, and then finally Interesting. You focused on each direction without being distracted by the other. PMI could be used by brainstorming session with a team.  It fanals your thoughts in a different direction before reaching for a decision. I recommend using this tool several times on the same problem.  You find new possibilities –you would not come up with when you used the tool for the first time. I call this tool the open mind tool.  Open your mind to new possibilities, and you will see the solution.

  Challenging the conventional wisdom

This tool, created by Dr. De Bono as well, used a deliberate effort to contradict natural thinking or normal logic.  For example, instead of applying for a job your employer will pay you a salary, apply for a job where you pay your employer a salary!  This does not make sense, and nobody will take the job!  But the idea is to find a possibility or a way where you can apply the idea to create a more practical ideas.  Volunteering will be the one answer for this problem, gaining future experience to apply for a better different job. Some interesting questions, listed below, contradict the conventional wisdom:

  • Can a home be rented where the landlord pays the tenant?
  • Can you predict an event that will not happen?
  • Can you travel to Antarctica by driving to Las Vegas?
  • Can you make money without working?
  • Can you eat a lot of fatty food and lose weight?
  • Can you gain weight by not eating?
  • Can you meet your goals without knowing them?
  • Can the ship reach to its destination without using a navigation system?
  • Can you be promoted in your job as punishment?

These questions are counter-intuitive, but they lead to another logical idea. This keeps your mind working and thinking all the time.

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