A Simple Anticonventional Thinking ACT Exercise

A Simple Anticonventional Thinking ACT Exercise.

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

You are probably familiar with the classic creative thinking exercises of listing as many uses as you possibly can of a brick, a box or a similar commonplace object. It is good for practicing creative thinking and is often used in tests to measure creativity, with quantity and diversity of uses indicating the level of creativity. This exercise, of course, is modeled on brainstorming: having a problem and trying to devise as many solutions as you possibly can.

The Anticonventional Exercise

Here is an alternative approach to the exercise which pushes you to use anticonventional thinking (ACT). Imagine an empty shoe box and lid. Rather than try and come up with lots of uses for the box, make a list of open-ended questions (in other words, questions which require more than a yes-no answer) about the box. Non-open-ended questions are acceptable only if they are the precursor to an open-ended question, for example, “Is the shoe box happy?” followed by “Why or why not?” Aim for about 25 questions.

Do not be boring with your questions. You want to understand this shoe box, you want to know its deepest emotions. You want to know what drives it, what kind of history it has and its intimate secrets. As you do this, think about the possible answers. These will inspire new questions. For instance, if you are in America and the shoe box was made in Vietnam, you might ask how it feels about being in America and how it copes with the language difference.

Finally, I want you to come up with five really outrageous and crazy things you could do with the box you now know so well. No boring ideas. Please do not even think about them. If something boring, like “put shoes in it” comes to mind, reject the idea immediately.

Unless an idea is crazy, it is not worth consideration. Only crazy ideas are welcome. Moreover, you must limit yourself to five ideas. So, if an idea is not really outrageous, think about how you can make it more outrageous. Otherwise reject it and move on. We have not time for ordinary, conventional ideas here!

As you do this, think about what you have learned about the box while asking questions. Think about what the box might like to be doing. Move the box around in your mind. In your mind’s eye, take it to different places you know and think about the box in those places.

By now, you should have five very creative ideas. Not more, not less. How creative are your ideas? What do you think of your ideas? What about the approach?

Why It Was Anticonventional Thinking

This exercise had a couple of fundamental differences to the usual exercise — and this reflects the ACT approach. Firstly, you focused your mental energy not on ideas, but rather on asking questions and understanding the core issue — the box — in depth. If you are an artist, writer or exceptionally creative person, you probably realise that you already do something like this when looking for ideas. But most people do not think about the problem — they focus their creative energy on the ideas. Ironically, that’s why their ideas tend to be less creative! Creativity is not so much about the ideas as about how you perceive the issue at hand.

Secondly, rather than ask for as many ideas as possible, I allowed you only five ideas. Moreover, I made it very clear that I did not want conventional, boring ideas. Why is this?

Most people’s minds, when tasked with solving problems, busily reject or censor ideas which are too outrageous. The traditional instruction of writing down as many ideas as possible does not change the way the mind works in this respect. It will still reject outrageous ideas. So, the assumption behind ACT is that we can trick the mind to do the opposite of what it usually does by giving it instructions to reject conventional ideas in favour of unconventional ideas. In other words, we trick the mind into thinking anticonventionally.

Application In Daily Life

If you want to try and apply ACT to simple problems, challenges and goals, follow the example above. When faced with a challenge, ask lots and lots of questions in order to understand it better. Visualise it. Visually move it around in your head. Then look for a single creative solution, rejecting any conventional ideas that come to mind as you do so. Once you have a creative solution, test it in your mind. Think about how you would apply it. If you continue to like it, build upon it. Make it more outrageous.

Once you have done that, ask yourself: what steps must you take to make the idea happen. If you cannot make it happen, reject it and start again.

And let me know how it works for you. I am genuinely curious!

Get Unstuck

 

17 Ways to Bring More Creativity into Your Daily Life and Work

 

In a 2,500-word magazine feature on how to spark creativity in life and business, it’s hard to find creative ways of saying, well, “creativity.” And when writing about innovation, I definitely don’t want to be repetitive. So I half-jokingly asked one of my sources for this story, Keri Smith, author of Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes and Wreck This Journal, if she had any good synonyms for the word. “Life,” she non-jokingly replied. “I try not to separate the two.”

 

She’s right. Our power to create is what sets us apart from other animals. (OK, the opposable thumb—which allows us to hold a paintbrush!—gets some credit, too.) And it’s important to be reminded of that power, she says. After all, you created your own business, right? Your ability to create—whether it’s a product, a business plan, a website, a piece of art—is infinite and only limited by the rules you impose upon yourself.

 

But for most of us, creativity has become cut off from our regular lives. Maybe we paint or journal or write songs as a hobby, but that seems to be where creativity—or at least our idea of it—stays. In today’s marketplace, however, “anyone who works with their mind is required to be creative on a daily basis,” says Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. “We are called upon to solve problems, develop strategies and assemble bits of data into something actionable. These are all creative acts, though they’re not often recognized as such.” So what good does it do to relegate our innate creativity to a hobby? How much more dynamic, successful and fun could your business be if you cultivated your creativity? Here are 17 ideas to get you started.

Read More:

 

Get Unstuck | 2012-02-06 | SUCCESS Magazine | Your Personal Development Resource.

Why do we reject the creative ideas we need the most?

A lot of times when people claim they’re not creative, what they’re really suggesting is that they lack an innate ability to generate creative ideas. While it is true that this skill can be taught, a new study (PDF) from Cornell University suggests that coming up with ideas may not be where we actually face the most barriers.

Experienced creative problem solvers know that a key part of generating ideas (diverging) is deferring judgement. Then once you’ve come up with a substantial set of ideas, you choose the best from the bunch to develop further (converging) – at which point you are, of course, judging them. The study suggests that it is this evaluation phase where implicit negative biases toward creativity become a problem. Continue Reading

via HogaFish | A Monstrous Blog on Creativity & Innovation.

Mars vs. Venus « Mindcamp

Mars vs Venus

by Ginny Santos

They say that men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, but what if you are a planet hopper, or you started off in Venus and you are now a Martian? Resisting Simplicity is a courageous act and an opportunity to seek new perspectives by breaking old habits and nurturing your creative thinking skills.

The world is full of complexities. That’s what makes it exciting. The challenges around us can be viewed as too complicated to address or as interesting complexities that call for creative thinking. When we create false opposites we simplify things in such a way that we limit our creativity.

Did you know that the woman who ruled Egypt in 15th century BC wore a false beard and used a male name? Did you know that the King of Angola from 1624 to 1653 was a cross-dresser? Did you know that 400 male soldiers in the US Civil War were found to be female? Did you know that Billy Tipton, renowned jazz musician was found to be female-bodied upon his death in 1989?

What planet did these people come from? I think they came from Earth, where courage and creativity are a must, where change is constant, and where complexity is an undeniable reality.  This reminds me of what Maslow said in 1962, “…creative people are people who don’t want the world as it is today but want to make another world.” Don’t we all?

Ginny Santos presents Resisting Simplicity: From opposites to creative insights at Mindcamp 2012.

Mars. vs Venus « Mindcamp.

Develop your Creative Thinking Skills

Sign up for a two-day interactive training in Creative Thinking and Problem Solving Skills

Using a holistic training approach based on principles of accelerated learning, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and neuroscience, this training will boost your ability to:

  • Think creatively, think outside the box
  • Address complex problems with original and effective solutions
  • Develop innovative programs, services, or products
  • Increase your ability to see possibilities instead of obstacles, and
  • Become a catalyst of change

Who is this for? Everyone will benefit from improving their creative thinking abilities! Past participants have been community leaders, managers, executive directors, artists, writers, teachers, front-line workers, counsellors, designers, parents, entrepreneurs and many more.

Creative thinking is a powerful skill that you will use in your personal and professional life.

What others have said:

“This was an outstanding workshop. I really enjoyed it and learned from it. I feel the content was presented in different ways, and all of them were easily accessible for me to grasp.”

“Since the workshop, I have had a persistent gut feeling that it has opened up ways for me to think and be.”

“I feel the fact that Ginny was facilitating made the environment feel safe and comfortable. “

“It was awesome! I really thought the experience was special and a gift.”

“Your passion of the material really comes through – it’s so great!”

“The wisdom circle stands out as a huge piece that I will use in my life.“

If you would like to be added to a mailing list to hear about future training opportunities please fill-in the form below.

Group flow: How teamwork can foster creativity, by R. Keith Sawyer

Indeed, group flow is important for all of us, because so many of our personal and professional activities are spent in groups, and we all want these groups to be more effective and more fun—whether they’re a sports team, a business meeting, a non-profit board, a PTA, or a boy scout troop. Decades of scientific research have revealed that great creativity almost always springs from collaboration, conversation, and social networks—challenging our mythical image of the isolated genius. And research shows that when a group is in flow, it’s more likely to resolve problems with surprising and creative solutions.

Read More: DailyGood: Group flow: How teamwork can foster creativity, by R. Keith Sawyer.

Creativity and Change

We have all had the experience of adapting to one change after another, sometimes willingly and other times against our wishes. But what if we all had the ability to deliberately bring about the change we wished for?

Creativity is just that…the ability to see possibilities and bring about change.

We are all creative to some extent, but we don’t all nurture and make use of our ability to think and act creatively.  Creativity requires that we do things differently, that we leave behind our habits and try something new. Creativity and innovation require the right type of thinking at the right time, coupled with courage, imagination and motivation.

Creating change is hard work, but it can also be fun!